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

The X Factor: Genetics and Female Mental Health

XIST, the gene that controls X chromosome gene expression, is up regulated in psychosis, just as the imprinted brain theory predicts.

When The Apple Falls Close to the Tree

In many cases, children with clinically significant psychiatric symptoms have a parent or other family member(s) with the same, often undiagnosed, issues.

The Angelina Jolie Effect

Angelina Jolie's decision to go public with her surgeries to prevent ovarian and breast cancer influenced women around the world to get tested for BRCA mutations.

Love for a Killer: "A Very Evil Kid”

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on June 22, 2015 in Moral Landscapes
When Adam Lanza massacred school children, people asked about his genes. But that was the wrong question. Genes are inert without experience. Families of victims of Dylann Roof’s gun rampage forgave him. It’s a show of love that he probably needed much earlier in his life.

Testing the “Extreme Female Brain” Theory of Psychosis

The “extreme female brain” theory is added to the extreme male one of autism, but both add up to much less than the imprinted brain theory.

9 Scientific Strategies for Losing Weight Without Dieting

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on June 20, 2015 in Living Single
The best way to achieve your "leanest livable weight" is to forsake dieting, give up on summoning that elusive willpower, and use the findings from social science to change your environments and your ways of thinking about food. The strategies are based on research, not some bogus fad.

Igniting a Renaissance

How can parents best bring out their child’s gifts? How can we help the gifted child who is more introverted? How can we spur a renaissance in gifted education? How can we persuade the public to care about helping our most talented kids reach their full potential?

Do You Know Your Health Destiny?

Would you like to change your health? Do you want to know more about how your genetics don't have to be your destiny? Then tune in to an interview with Eva Selhub, MD, author of "Your Health Destiny."

A Workover: Helping Someone Make a Decision

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on May 31, 2015 in How To Do Life
Tactics you can use to come to a decision

Yes, You Are Probably Biased:

Scientific evidence declares that prejudice is an inherent part of every person; we are genetically wired to be racist, sexist, ethnocentric, etc. However, does that justify the discrimination and consequential brutality that are so rife in our society? The answer is NO. Catch your triggers and choose to make different choices about how you will react.

Lobotomy Cuts Both Ways (Diametrically Speaking)!

A patient cured of epilepsy by brain surgery acquired hyper-mentalistic symptoms as implied by the diametric model and predicted by the imprinted brain theory.

More Evidence that Dogs Rose Early On

By Mark Derr on May 24, 2015 in Dog's Best Friend
New evidence that dogs emerged in multiple places before the end of the last Ice Age.

Dog's Brains Are Tuned to Recognize Human Faces

Recent fMRI data shows that dogs' sensitivity to human faces and expressions may be wired into the canine brain.

Oxytocin — The Multitasking Love Hormone

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on May 12, 2015 in How We Do It
Oxytocin is widely known because hospitals routinely use it to trigger and support birth. The hormone also triggers milk ejection during breastfeeding. But it is also involved elsewhere, including bonding. Oxytocin has significant effects on brain function as well as on the reproductive organs. But it has very ancient origins, so what was its initial function?

How Do Your Genes Influence Levels of Emotional Sensitivity?

Neuroscientists have identified a specific gene variation that causes some people to be more emotionally sensitive.

No Virginia, Gay Marriage Won’t Lead to 900,000 Abortions

Gene Schaerr’s recently argued, before the Supreme Court, that gay marriage will lead to more abortions--900,000 more! But his argument wouldn't even receive a passing grade in my sophomore level logic class.

Geography of Aging and the Illusion of Self

By Mario D Garrett PhD on May 04, 2015 in iAge
There is no "me". My body is a fusion of the outside world and an internal reality. The distinction between me and them is purely a creation of my mind. The separation comes as an afterthought. My mind creates this dualism, but in reality my body is fused with the geography and behavior of others around. The sense of self is how the body placates me.

What Do Women Really Want?

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on May 04, 2015 in Media Spotlight
Some researchers have named those qualities that women look at in choosing a mate as the Three Gees - good genes, good providers, and good fathers. Men who can demonstrate all three of these qualities stand the greatest chance of winning the mate selection competition. But how important are these traits? New research from China puts the Three Gees to the test.

ADHD as a Continuum, Inside and Out

Some call ADHD a true brain disease while others call it pure nonsense. New evidence supporting the idea of ADHD as an extreme of normal trait variation demonstrates how everyone might be wrong.

Real Psychiatry and Darwinian Evolution are One and the Same

The basic principle for the development of human personality is at one with Darwinian evolution. Psychotherapy is the treatment that addresses the human issues in precisely the way they were constructed in the first place.

Do You Have the Personality of a Neanderthal?

By Gregg Murray Ph.D. on April 26, 2015 in Caveman Politics
Almost all of us have some Neanderthal in us. What can that tell us about how these ancient cousins of ours thought?

You're Awake but You Can't Move

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on April 23, 2015 in Sleep Newzzz
If you experience sleep paralysis, don't panic, because it's a temporary and harmless condition that will soon pass.

Perfectionism: Inherited or A Psychological Solution?

There are many articles and research that reference Perfectionism. The term can be loosely thrown around to assume that all perfectionism is an inherited trait. This may be true for some, but not others. Perhaps psychological experiences influence a person's perfectionism. In either case, not enough is known or understood to assert causation.

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules—But Whose Hand Is It?

The history of the nature/nurture controversy reveals fraud on the nurture side and developments in our view of nature that the imprinted brain theory readily explains.

Expanding the Heart While Educating the Mind

By Dana Klisanin Ph.D. on April 16, 2015 in Digital Altruism
The Hippie gene has made its way into the Millennial’s DNA. The “old school” approach to work and education is not right for them. A Millennial would rather be a “freelancer” than a “cog-in-the-wheel” of so-called progress. Their highest aspiration is to become “independent freelancers and global citizens who make a difference in the world.”

Body Punishment

By The Book Brigade on April 16, 2015 in The Author Speaks
Obsessive-compulsive disorder takes many forms, but all of them involve repetitive behaviors that often create vicious cycles of anxiety and shame. Maggie Lamond Simone punished herself to maintain a public face—until the same disorder was diagnosed in her child. Only then did the healing begin.

Wired for Perfect Health

Your unconscious mind knows exactly what you need to be healthy. So why aren’t you?

Evolutionary Psychology Is Not About "Bettering the Species"

People often think that since "evolution" has a lot to do with speciation, then "evolutionary psychology" must be about "bettering the human species" in some way. It's not. At all. Read this if you want to know what evolutionary psychology is really about.

Are Distance Running and Reproductive Potential Connected?

Anthropologists at the University of Cambridge recently reported that males with higher "reproductive potential" may also be better distance runners. Why would being good at long-distance running have evolved to reflect a more desirable male gene pool?

Add Humor to Your Job and Boost Your Career

Take the brave step of experimenting with more well-placed humor at your job. By going outside your normal comfort zone with some easy-to-follow tips, you may develop a much more appealing work environment for yourself, and advance your career.