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 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.

Recent posts on Genetics

Gender Differences: Equality Versus Similarity

Some feminists deny that true gender differences in behavior exist: they mistake similarity with equality, and neglect an important source of individuality.
Aphiwat Chuangchoem/pexels.com

Endless Jet Lag

Time rules life - including what you crave.

Gut Check

While you sit on your tuffet; how does your inner garden grow?

Mindful in the Classroom: New Lessons in Mental Literacy

A new age of neuroscientific literacy is beginning in the classroom.
Hydra: Wikipedia commons

Why Do We Die?

By Thomas Hills Ph.D. on March 18, 2017 in Statistical Life
Our survivability is the bargaining chip that life pays to keep us immortal.

What Is the Future of Genetic Testing?

Anxious about the onslaught of genetic tests? A new book weeds through the morass.

Harvard Study Finds Genetic ‘Toggle Switch’ for Sociability

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have pinpointed specific neuronal circuitry and a 'toggle switch' that can turn a mouse's sociability "on" and "off" in the laboratory.
Paul Ekman, PhD

Growing Old

By Paul Ekman Ph.D. on March 15, 2017 in Face It!
Genetics, sensible living, and luck have helped an accomplished scientist accomplish much of what he wanted in 83 years.

Genetics Play a Role in Social Anxiety Disorder, Study Finds

A new study has pinpointed a genetic link between social anxiety disorder (SAD) and a serotonin transporter gene called "SLC6A4."

Check Yourself (Again): More Mental Health Blunders

By Noam Shpancer Ph.D. on March 10, 2017 in Insight Therapy
A previous post listed several mental health errors that may hinder psychological well-being. But wait, there’s more…
Charles Darwin/Public Domain

Why Does Autism Still Exist?

By Barb Cohen on March 07, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Some gene variants associated with autism are also significantly associated with high intelligence. “Smart” genes are advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, so they persist.

When a Gene Test Could Help You Pick an Anti-Depressant

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 02, 2017 in Open Gently
If you can afford it, save yourself months and get a gene test when you're depressed.

Do Purebred and Mixed-Breed Dogs Show Behavior Differences?

Purebred and mixed-breed dogs differ in terms of their personality and the likelihood of behavior problems.
FSG - Amazon book page

This Close to Happy, by Daphne Merkin

Why do some people do well and others not when ill with a disease?

Early Brain Over-Growth Is Indicative of Autism as Predicted

The imprinted brain theory links brain growth to autism, and a new study confirms the association.

6 Possible Explanations for Gray Hair

Why do people go gray? Graying of hair is a complicated process. Here are six hypotheses that try to explain this age-related phenomenon.

XO in XY

By Laura Betzig Ph.D. on February 14, 2017 in The Political Animal
A small army of human geneticists is unfolding the history of human mating from our sex chromosomes.

Why Eyes are Blue

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on February 08, 2017 in The Human Beast
Our remote ancestors likely had dark eyes, whether brown or black. Blue eyes are common in northern Europe and emerged some 5,000 years ago. This suggests evolution can be fast.

Telomere Length and Depression

By Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc on February 05, 2017 in Inner Source
What can old shoelaces teach us about genetics and staving off depression?

Boys Will Be Boys—Even If Raised Believed to Be Girls

Boys born seeming to be girls and socialised as such revert to male after puberty in ~90% of cases, providing an acid test of nature versus nurture.

From Stress to Genes, Baboons to Hormones

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on February 04, 2017 in How To Do Life
An Interview with Robert Sapolsky

Is Self-Confidence Inherited? A Renewed Debate

By Ray Williams on February 02, 2017 in Wired for Success
New research suggests that self-confidence may have a significant genetic component.

Procuring The Unconventional

Why you need to source your food like a chef; not just for flavor but for health

Do Extraverts Have More Children?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on January 24, 2017 in The Human Beast
Extraverts are more vulnerable to boredom. In the evolutionary past, they likely relieved the boredom by having affairs. Did this improve their reproductive success?

Is Humanity's "Moral Sense" Inherited or Nurtured?

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on January 22, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
Humans inherit many things from their ancestors beyond genes. Darwin argued with evidence that humanity's "moral sense" is part of their nature, not against it. Where did it go?
Mark E. Williams

Aging, Genetics and DNA Repair

Are we programmed to age in a certain way?

Why Do Large Dogs Have Shorter Life Spans Than Small Dogs?

Bigger is not better when it comes to the size of dogs. Recent data help explain why larger dogs age more quickly.

Learning From Orca Menopause

By G.A. Bradshaw PhD, PhD on January 15, 2017 in Bear in Mind
How neuropsychology provides insights into the true nature of Killer Whale morals and culture.

Opposite Genetic Profiles of Autism vs. Schizophrenia

Although both autism and schizophrenia feature symptomatic communication difficulties, genetic profiling reveals them to be opposites as proposed by the diametric model.

What Molecular Biology Has Neglected in Evolution

Ever wonder how life started? Was DNA really the beginning of life on earth or did life come from outer space?