Understanding Genetics

All traits and personality characteristics, from height to fear of heights, are driven by a complex interplay of genes and environmental feedback. We now know that the lion's share of human genes are expressed in the brain and that almost all normal and disordered behaviors are polygenic, meaning that they are influenced (not to say caused) by multiple genes. Scientists are therefore tasked with a massive but increasingly plausible mission: mapping the pathway from genes and mediating forces to the person you see in the mirror (known in biological parlance as the "phenotype").

Recent Posts on Genetics

Are Creativity and Madness Written Together in Your Genes?

By Garth Sundem on May 04, 2016 Brain Trust
A study in Nature Neuroscience shows that creativity and madness may share the same genetic underpinnings.

What You Need To Know About The Genetics of Mental Disorders

By Allen J Frances M.D. on April 30, 2016 Saving Normal
The genetics revolution is one of mankind's greatest intellectual achievements- but so far has contributed nothing to patient care and the ridiculous complexity of brain function.

Prince Or His Music: Which Will You Miss More?

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on April 29, 2016 Trouble in Mind
Steven Pinker famously said that music was simply “auditory cheesecake,” a pleasurable activity with no useful or adaptive qualities. Prince fans may not agree!

Voting With Our Ancestral Brain

A good psychological theory suggests that attraction to Trump as a candidate could be written into our DNA. Could it also be now a mental disease?

Depression Is a Risk for Alzheimer’s: We Need to Know Why.

There is now consensus that depression is a risk for later Alzheimer's disease. But depression is not a single disorder; are there recognizable sub-types that are the real risk?

The Reason We Need a Transhumanism Movement

Transhumanism is a social movement that is imbued with a techno-optimism that is contagious. The movement is growing like wildfire.

ADHD and the Rock Star Gene

Adam Levine, will.i.am, Justin Timberlake, and Solange Knowles have spoken publicly about their ADHD. Can ADHD be a gift?

Schizophrenia and Genetics

Taking the recent schizophrenia molecular genetic studies at face value, one might conclude that genetics plays a role—but not much of one.

5 Keys to Living a Richer Life

Transcending the self sits at the core of a Darwinian take on life. From this perspective, it’s not about the money.

Paternity Shock: Is Who You Call Dad Your Genetic Father?

Perhaps one reason for these high estimations is that female adultery is supposedly common, occurring in an estimated 5–27% for people younger than 30 years old...

What Horses And Genes Are Teaching Us About Addiction

By Denise Cummins Ph.D. on April 08, 2016 Good Thinking
Three genes have been implicated in addiction to marijuana. Here is how horses can help us understand what that means.

It's What Online Dating Can't Tell You

By Martin Graff Ph.D. on April 06, 2016 Love, Digitally
You can learn a lot from a person's odour.

The Problem With Contemporary Psychiatric Diagnosis

Patients today get stained by the specious medical diagnoses of biological psychiatry.

What, Exactly, Is Gender Equality? It’s Not Numbers

Gender differences in behavior may have a biological as well as a social determinant. Can we envisage a time when we accept these as true examples of individuality?

On Human Genetic Enhancement

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on April 03, 2016 How To Do Life
An interview with George Church

Depression: New Research Shows That Genetics Are Not Destiny

A study published today reports that your genetic predisposition for depression is never set in stone. This is good news if you're prone to depression, but bad news if you're not.

A Curable Brain Disorder?

Genetic developmental disorders of the brain are usually considered incurable. But recent results suggest that, in Rett's syndrome at least, this may not be the case.

Will Home Genetic Tests Become Commonplace?

Are you curious about your genetic inheritance? Attempts to quell this curiosity at home with a genetic test are doomed to failure.

The Gene No Family Wants to Sing About: Huntington's Disease

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on March 26, 2016 Trouble in Mind
Woody Guthrie died of the terrible genetic disorder Huntington’s Disease when little was known about it.Today fertilization technology can save the children of HD gene carriers.

Polyandry (One Woman, Many Men)

By David P. Barash Ph.D. on March 26, 2016 Pura Vida
Draupadi and her five husbands: The only thing unusual here is the overt acknowledgment of this woman's polyandry.

Discouraged About Finding Anxiety Help? Try Genomics

Help for perpetual anxiety can be difficult to find. Maybe exploring your genomic blueprint will enable you to discover the treatments you need.

Groundbreaking New Schizophrenia Research

A recent study published in Nature examines a possible genetic correlation in individuals with schizophrenia.

Dinosaurs are Extinct, but Normalization is Alive and Well

By Emily S Beitiks on March 22, 2016 The Age of Biotech
Have you ever questioned why the t-rex's arms are so small? This question teaches us more about humans than dinosaurs...

In Dog Attacks Is the Problem Bad Dogs or Bad Owners?

According to an Angus Reid survey public opinion is against banning specific breeds and tends to blame owners for bad dogs.

A Hard Science

In On Being Human, Jerome Kagan, a pioneer in the field of developmental psychology, demonstrates that researchers err when they attribute more power to genes than to culture.

The Selfless Gene

People who think that Dawkins’ “selfish gene” phrase implies that all human behavior evolved to be selfish have it completely wrong. Here’s the deal.

Gut Feelings

Minions rule: how your gut microbiome impacts your health

Gene Editing Eugenics in The X Files

Will a biotech elite make society-altering decisions on the planet's behalf?

Where Do Fears and Phobias Come From?

Like most things, it's a combination of genes and environment—but "Nature-vs.-Nurture" is only part of the story.

The Revolution That Takes Us Partway

By Kaja Perina on March 08, 2016 Brainstorm
The problem has nothing to do with inherent limitations in technology or computational power. It has everything to do with the deeply social needs of human beings.