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 You Always Stressed–Out? New Blood Test May Explain Why

Neuroscientists recently pinpointed a genetic biomarker linked to people who are “stress sustainers” and at risk for PTSD. A simple blood test could lead to early interventions.

Depression in Children

What are the risk factors for childhood depression and how can it be treated?

What's New in Neuropsychology?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on February 04, 2016 How To Do Life
Will today's "exciting findings" finally yield tomorrow's real sbreakthroughs?

Do You Share Political Preferences With Your Parents?

It seems intuitive that our parents should have an influence on our political leanings, but just how this occurs might surprise you.

Daughters Inherit Emotional Control From Their Mothers

A new study finds a link between the brain circuitry of mothers and that of their daughters.

Can Your Diet Make You Stupid?

Obesity induces alterations in how the DNA within the cells of your brain allow you to encode new memories.

Race Differences in Androgens: Do They Mean Anything?

What can group differences in androgen levels tell us about racial differences in reproductive strategies? Probably not much.

Listen Up, Women! Super Strong Legs Make Super Strong Brains

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on January 23, 2016 Trouble in Mind
Should we be cycling up steep hills every day to preserve our brain cortex as we age? Or is this just media hype?

Designer Genes

By Diane Tober Ph.D. on January 21, 2016 The Age of Biotech
Rejecting sperm and egg providers because of ADHD and Dyslexia? Cultural myths abound surrounding "disability" and genetics.

How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes, etc. Shape Behaviour

Important insights into mental health—not to mention into who we are—follow from the realization that biologically speaking human beings are anything but single, unified organisms.

The Ripley Effect: Alien Intruders in the Womb

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on January 05, 2016 How We Do It
A fetus in its mother’s womb must somehow evade detection by her immune system. In an "Alien"-like scenario, genes that permit this have been captured from once harmful viruses.

Exciting New Breakthrough in Mental Health

The new year offers more hope than ever for treatment of mental disorders.

Copy Number, Schizophrenia, and Autism: New Findings

Copy number of a DNA domain involved in brain development correlates with the symptoms of schizophrenia and with autism as predicted by the diametric model.

Monogamy Is Outdated

By Ryan Anderson on December 22, 2015 The Mating Game
Monogamy is really hard to maintain. Perhaps we are just not meant to be monogamous

The Preservation of Human Energy Through Aging

By Mario D Garrett PhD on December 15, 2015 iAge
What does aging teach us about how the body preserves energy?

Good News for Donor Egg Recipient Mothers

By Joann P. Galst Ph.D. on December 09, 2015 Fertility Factor
Women conceiving through the use of donor eggs may contribute to their baby's genetic development after all.

The Politics of Anguish

By Mario D Garrett PhD on December 07, 2015 iAge
Celebrating a century of research in Alzheimer's disease we still find the disease a conundrum. A new book argues that this has been brought about because of politics.

The Seeds that Give Birth to Terrorism

By Kimberly Key on December 04, 2015 Counseling Keys
In a terrorist-filled society, here are some things to help in understanding its origins and what can possibly be done. Is the future worth it?

Lifestyle Choices Cause Epigenetic Changes to Father’s Sperm

Sperm carries information about a father’s well-being at the time of conception in ways that may influence a baby’s long-term health.

6 Important Evolutionary Psychology Books

By Kevin Bennett on December 02, 2015 Modern Minds
Let's talk about sex...and emotions, politics, culture, cooperation, genes, and the psychological design of the human mind. Modern evolutionary psychology tackles all of it.

Cancer Is My Teacher, Part 4

By Lucy O'Donnell on December 01, 2015 Cancer Is a Teacher
Having so many operations during this cancer journey and coping with so many general anesthetics crammed into such a short space of time—you really need to approach this as you would a job. What are all these tests and what do they do? Understanding this complicated process and being prepared makes it a whole lot easier.

Don’t Believe the Hype - Dad Bods Are Not Sexy

By Ryan Anderson on November 23, 2015 The Mating Game
Is the 'dad bod' really attractive? Have we really been lied to since, forever?

We Are Becoming Gods

By Mario D Garrett PhD on November 21, 2015 iAge
While we are behaving more like gods, we are learning that we are less human.

Inequality Aversion, Evolution, and Reproduction

By Jesse Marczyk on November 21, 2015 Pop Psych
What determines how quickly a gene spreads throughout a population is how well it reproduces itself, relative to its competitors. What does this tell us about how we respond to inequality, and the shape of cognitive mechanisms more generally?

Coffee Talk

Coffee: Morning savior or caffeinated devil?

Family Background, Creativity, and Genius

Is the intense motivation of creative persons and geniuses, as manifested by months- or years-long devotions to a project in science, art, or other fields, due to inheritance or other family background factors? I describe a controlled empirical study of 435 Nobel laureates in science and 215 literary prizewinners.

Super Genes

How unlocking the astonishing power of your DNA can improve your health and well-being

Central Asia Is Proposed as Birthplace of Dogs

By Mark Derr on November 12, 2015 Dog's Best Friend
A new genetic study of village dogs--free-ranging dogs--points to Central Asia as the most likely place where dogs originated.

Can Bargain Hunting Be Addictive?

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on November 11, 2015 In Excess
A growing number of articles in the print media have claimed that bargain hunting can be addictive for a small minority. But what does the scientific literature say and isn't this just another form of 'shopaholism'?

Creativity and Psychiatric Illnesses

Small effects of many genes may increase the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Some of these same genes may also contribute to creativity. Increased creativity may be helpful in terms of human evolution.