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

Genes, Ions, and Other New Frontiers in Psychiatry

A gene related to ion channels common to many families with mental illness leads us to new discoveries and treatments based on actual brain pathology.

Twins With Two Daddies

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on June 22, 2017 in How We Do It
Paternity suits triggered by strikingly different fraternal twins have revealed bizarre cases with two different fathers. Split paternity is the visible tip of a sizeable iceberg.

Four Reasons Why People Become Empaths: Trauma to Genetics

Why do people become empaths? As a psychiatrist and an empath, I’ve seen that there are four main factors that can contribute to heightening one's sensitivities.

Aggression and Fear Can Be Reduced in Specific Dog Breeds

New data provides a possible alternative to breed-specific legislation to control aggression and fearfulness in dogs.

Domestication, It's Complicated

Cats may have been domesticated twice, or more. A new study shows that today’s domestic cats have two sets of maternal ancestors.

Mind-Body Practices Downregulate Inflammation-Related Genes

A new systematic review of research on mind-body interventions reports that practices such as meditation or yoga can downregulate the genetic expression of inflammatory cytokines.
Dexter & Ellie credit: Randi Hutter Epstein

Does Your Child Need Growth Hormone?

New guidelines help doctors, parents, and patients decide.

The Bachs and the Epigenetics of Music

Many believe epigenetics makes inheritance of acquired traits possible, but the example of imprinted genes on chromosome 15 provides a better explanation of innate musical ability.

Is It ADHD or a Thyroid Disorder?

Do you have ADHD or a thyroid disorder? Symptoms can be very similar. There's also a chance that you can have ADHD and thyroid issues at the same time.

Dog Obedience Trials Began Because of Poodles and a Farmer

A woman's desire to prove that Poodles were not stupid useless dogs ultimately gave birth to modern dog obedience trials

How the Brain Determines Sexuality

It has been known for a long time that early exposure to testosterone has a powerful influence on later sexuality. Now we are beginning to understand how this might come about.

Great Performers Are Born AND Made

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on June 07, 2017 in The Power of Prime
Different pursuits have specific neurological, physiological, and musculoskeletal requirements and if you're not born with those, all of the training in the world won't help.

At Last the Government Is Recognizing Who Owns Your Health

By Peter Edelstein M.D. on June 06, 2017 in Patient Power
What's more personal than your own individual genetic identification? A recent FDA decision on genetic tests represents a major shift in who truly owns your health: You.

Epigenetics of Music: A Karaoke vs. Bach Genetic Conflict?

A study of a rare imprinting disorder has wide implications for our appreciation of music—Bach and karaoke included!

Should We All Be Tested for Cancer Predisposition Mutations?

Should genetic testing for cancer genes be part of our routine medical care?
pixabay.com

Required Summer Reading

In a landmark study of why human beings believe what they believe and do what they do, Robert Sapolsky demonstrates that brains and cultures evolve; genes don't determine anything.
Sararwut Jaimassiri/Shutterstock

A Genetic Revolution: No Two Neurons Alike

By William R. Klemm Ph.D. on May 10, 2017 in Memory Medic
You are what you have been made by your genes and environment. But what you choose to think and do can change who you are.

The Gene Machine: An Interview with Bonnie Rochman

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on May 06, 2017 in Side Effects
The expanding influence of genomics on our lives.

Hundreds of Psychology Studies are Wrong

By neglecting genetic influences on behaviour, numerous psychologists have confounded their own research.

Addict Cleans Up, Then Is Shunned by Family

Addiction is in the news again, and everyone wants to believe it's caused mostly by genetics. But a letter to a newspaper advice columnist reveals hidden family dynamics.

Scans Reveal Diametric Differences in More Detail

A followup study to a previous one that showed striking diametric differences between autistic and psychotic brains also reveals similarities in the so-called social brain.

Morality: Seeds Must Be Planted Rightly in Early LIfe

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on April 23, 2017 in Moral Landscapes
It’s easy to believe that reasoning is the most important aspect of morality. But it isn't. Morality "goes all the way down" to how well our neurobiological systems work.

Imprinting and the Epigenetics of the Brain and Sleep

One of the best-understood epigenetic mechanisms—genomic imprinting—explains much about both sleep and the brain.

What Is Madness?

By Sheila Kohler on April 17, 2017 in Dreaming for Freud
Madness has also been a useful tool for autocratic governments in countries like Germany during the Nazi period, South Africa under apartheid, or the Soviet Union.
Lori Russell-Chapin

Does Neurocounseling Education Impact Age Differently?

By Lori Russell-Chapin Ph.D. on April 15, 2017 in Brain Waves
Is it possible that neurocounseling and bridging brain and behavior can help us live more effectively and be helpful for any age group?

Are Humans Adapted to Modern Environments?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on April 11, 2017 in The Human Beast
Our two main theories of human behavior do a poor job of explaining how humans change to meet the demands of varied environments – but we do.

76 Reasons to Stay Single

Humans, like other animals, have evolved to spread our genes. Which begs the question: why does anyone stay single?

Victim of Biology and Circumstance?

By William R. Klemm Ph.D. on April 10, 2017 in Memory Medic
People have underestimated their capacity to sculpt their own brains, attitudes, and behavior by controlling experiences that affect gene expression.

Do Twins Read Each Other's Minds?

By Nancy L. Segal Ph.D. on March 30, 2017 in Twofold
Some people think twin communicate telepathically, but research shows otherwise.

Could a Blood Test for Cancer Be Dangerous?

Early cancer detection seems right. But it can, in reality, be wrong.