Showing posts from June, 2016

Behavioral Genetics:

Why We're Different
A Conversation WithRobert Plomin[6.29.16]

What we're trying to do in behavioral genetics and medical genetics is explain differences. It's important to know that we all share approximately 99 percent of our DNA sequence. If we sequence, as we can now readily do, all of our 3 billion base pairs of DNA, we will be the same at over 99 percent of all those bases. That's what makes us similar to each other. It makes us similar to chimps and most mammals. We're over 90 percent similar to all mammals. There's a lot of genetic similarity that's important from an evolutionary perspective, but it can't explain why we're different. That's what we're up to, trying to explain why some children are reading disabled, or some people become schizophrenic, or why some people suffer from alcoholism, et cetera. We're always talking about differences. The only genetics that makes a difference is that 1 percent of the 3 billion base pairs. B…

Why it is useful to understand the role of genetics in behaviour

Scientists have studied twins for many years to understand how genes and environments influence differences among individuals, spanning conditions such as cancer and mental health to characteristics such as intelligence and political beliefs. Although the twin method is well-established, findings from twin studies are often controversial. Critics of twin research question the value of establishing that characteristics, such as health behaviours, have a strong genetic basis. A primary concern is that these types of findings will result in complacency or fatalism, effectively undermining motivation to change lifestyle. But there is very little evidence to support these fears. Genetic influence on human characteristics is often misinterpreted. It is wrongly assumed that a behaviour that has strong genetic influence (highly heritable) must be biologically hardwired. However, genes are not destiny. Genes are often dependent on environmental exposure, such that genes can have a stronger effec…

Genetics and intelligence differences: five special findings

OPEN R Plomin1 and I J Deary2,3 1King's College London, MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, DeCrespigny Park, London, UK2Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK3Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK Correspondence: Professor R Plomin, King's College London, MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre, PO80, Institute of Psychiatry, DeCrespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK. E-mail: Received 14 March 2014; Revised 18 July 2014; Accepted 22 July 2014
Advance online publication 16 September 2014 Topof page
Abstract Intelligence is a core construct in differential psychology and behavioural genetics, and should be so in cognitive neuroscience. It is one of the best predictors of important life outcomes such as education, occupation, mental and physical health and illness, and mortality. Intelligence is one of…

Genetic test predicts your success in life, but not happiness

“It is important that people recognise and respect genetic scores,” says Plomin. “When kids don’t do well, we blame their teachers and parents, but kids vary genetically. [A low polygenic score] doesn’t mean a kid can’t learn, but we should recognise that it might take more effort.”

What’s your genetic score?