Posts Tagged ‘Genetics’

De novo mutations in autism

A trio of papers in this week’s Nature identifies mutations causing autism in four new genes, demonstrate the importance of de novo mutations in the etiology of this disorder and suggest that there may be 1,000 or more genes in which high-risk, autism-causing mutations can occur. These studies provide an explanation for what seems like […]

Does brain plasticity trump innateness?

The fact that the adult brain is very plastic is often held up as evidence against the idea that many psychological, cognitive or behavioural traits are innately determined. At first glance, there does indeed appear to be a paradox. On the one hand, behavioural genetic studies show that many human psychological traits are strongly heritable […]

Split brains, autism and schizophrenia

A new study suggests that a gene known to be causally linked to schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders is involved in the formation of connections between the two hemispheres of the brain. DISC1 is probably the most famous gene in psychiatric genetics, and rightly so. It was discovered in a large Scottish pedigree, where 18 […]

Welcome to your genome

There is a common view that the human genome has two different parts – a “constant” part and a “variable” part. According to this view, the bases of DNA in the constant part are the same across all individuals. They are said to be “fixed” in the population. They are what make us all human […]

Environmental influences on autism – splashy headlines from dodgy data

A couple of recent papers have been making headlines in relation to autism, one claiming that it is caused less by genetics than previously believed and more by the environment and the other specifically claiming that antidepressant use by expectant mothers increases the risk of autism in the child. But are these conclusions really supported […]

Complex interactions among epilepsy genes

A debate has been raging over the last few years over the nature of the genetic architecture of so-called “complex” disorders. These are disorders – such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, type II diabetes and many others – which are clearly heritable across the population, but which do not show simple patterns of inheritance. A new study […]

Where do morals come from?

Review of “Braintrust. What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality”, by Patricia S. Churchland The question of “where morals come from” has exercised philosophers, theologians and many others for millennia. It has lately, like many other questions previously addressed only through armchair rumination, become addressable empirically, through the combined approaches of modern neuroscience, genetics, psychology, anthropology […]

The miswired brain

Recent evidence indicates that psychiatric disorders can arise from differences, literally, in how the brain is wired during development. Psychiatric genetic approaches are finding new mutations associated with mental illness at an amazing rate, thanks to new genomic array and sequencing technologies. These mutations include so-called copy number variants (deletions or duplications of sections of […]

The heritability debate, again

Like the level of selection debate, the debate about what heritability means has a life of its own. The latest shot comes from Scott Barry Kaufman who argues (among other things) that: The heritability of a trait can vary from 0.00 to 1.00, depending on the environments from which research participants are sampled. Because we […]

Income and IQ

As I noted in my recent post on Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Gladwell ignored the possibility that traits with a genetic component, other than IQ, might play a role in determining success. His approach reminded me of a useful paper by Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis from 2002 on the inheritance of inequality. Bowles and Gintis […]

Your genes, your rights – FDA’s Jeffrey Shuren misleading testimony under oath

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please make sure to follow the very thorough discussion/debate over at Discover Blogs, where this has been cross-posted. End Update Over the past few days I’ve been very disturbed…and angry. The reason is that I’ve been reading Misha Angrist and Dr. Daniel MacArthur. First, watch this video: In the very near […]

Diminishing returns of ancestry analysis (for me)

Zack has finally started posting results from HAP. To the left you see the results generated at K = 5 from his merged data set with the first 10 HAP members. I am HRP002. Zack is HRP001. Paul G., who is an ethnic Assyrian, is HRP010. Some others have already “outed” themselves, so I could […]

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