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23andMe's Designer Baby Patent The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office award a patent on gamete donor selection to the company 23andMe that sells at-home DNA testing kits. This technology would enable prospective parents to handpick a sperm or egg donor with whom they would likely to produce a child born with certain traits that they desire. Whether this information is empowering to potential parents or a modern twist on eugenics is something you and your students can debate. From The Huffington Post, October 4, 2013.

About Gender This extensive web site discusses everything about gender roles, gender variance, and gender identity, including cognitive development, psychoanalysis, and hormones. Also includes an overview of genetics in general.

A Double Life Psychologist Nancy Segal has spent her career studying what makes identical twins unique — and what the pairs can teach us about the role genes and environment play in shaping ourselves. From the APA Monitor, volume 46, number 1, January 2015.

Are we really born that way? A basic summary of genetics and the influence of genetics on behavior.

Behavioral Genetics. The Human Genome Project Web Page is perhaps the best resource for background articles on understanding genetics, human behavior, and the quest to map the human genome. These pages include an overview of genetics and the impact of genetics on human behavior, current research questions, literature searches of personality traits with a genetic component (e.g. shyness, homosexuality, novelty seeking, alcoholism), lesson plans for elementary and high school science classes, wall charts of the human genome, and extensive links to more information.

Being Poor Can Suppress Children's Genetic Potential Our findings suggest that socioeconomic disparities in cognitive development start early . . . For children from poorer homes, genetic influences on changes in cognitive ability were close to zero. For children from wealthier homes, genes accounted for about half of the variation in cognitive changes. According to this 2003 article from Psychological Science, Volume 14(6), 623-628, by Eric Turkheimer, Andreana Haley, Mary Waldron, Brian D’Onofrio,and Irving I. Gottesman and summarized here.

Britain Could Create First 'Three-parent Baby' Through IVF Parents at high risk of having children with severe disabilities such as muscular dystrophy will be offered the controversial new IVF treatment after it was given the green light by ministers in the UK today according to this article and video in The Telegraph, June 28, 2013. Video runs 2 minutes, 6 seconds.

Bullying by Childhood Peers Leaves a Trace That Can Change the Expression of a Gene Linked to Mood A recent study suggests that bullying by peers changes the structure surrounding a gene involved in regulating mood, making victims more vulnerable to mental health problems as they age. according to research published in the journal Psychological Medicine and summarized here in ScienceDaily, December 18, 2012.

Character Traits Determined Genetically? Genes play a greater role in forming character traits such as self-control, decision making, or sociability, than was previously thought according to research by Despina Archontaki, Gary Lewis and Timothy Bates published in the Journal of Personality and summarized here in ScienceDaily, May 16, 2012.

Childhood Adversity Can Lead to Genetic Changes Childhood adversity may lead to epigenetic changes in the human glucocorticoid receptor gene, an important regulator of the biological stress response that may increase risk for psychiatric disorders according to research published in PLoS ONE and summarized here in Medical News Today, February 29, 2012.

COMT Gene and Fear Processing Inborn differences may help explain why trauma gives some people bad memories and others the nightmare of post-traumatic stress according to research by Christian Montag and colleagues on genetic variation in the COMT gene summarized in Behavioral Neuroscience and summarized here in Medical News Today, August 11, 2008.

Depression Linked To Your Genetic Double Helix DNA Summarizes the results of a meta-analysis which supports earlier findings that there is a link between sensitivity to stress and a short allele in those who had been mistreated as children and in people suffering with specific, severe medical conditions. Only a marginal relationship was found in those who had undergone stressful life events [without the short allele]. Karg, K., Burmeister, M., Shedden, K., Sen, S. (2011). The Serotonin Transporter Promoter Variant (5-HTTLPR), Stress, and Depression Meta-analysis Revisited Evidence of Genetic Moderation. ''Archives of General Psychiatry. Published online January 3, 2011.

Do Friends Have Similar Genomes? According to research by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis,We are more genetically similar to our friends than we are to strangers. […] Looking at differences between nearly 2,000 people, recruited as part of a heart study in a small US town, they found that friends shared about 0.1% more DNA, on average, than strangers. From BBC News, July 15, 2014.

Economics Status, Genetics, Together Influence Psychopathic Traits Researchers studying the genetic roots of antisocial behavior report that children with one variant of a serotonin transporter gene are more likely to exhibit psychopathic traits if they also grow up poor according to research by Edelyn Verona and colleagues, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and summarized in this article from Science Daily, August 7, 2010.

Eight Misconceptions About "Three-Parent Babies" What to know as the UK works to reverse ban on modifying future children's genes. From Psychology Today, July 10, 2013.

Epigenetics: Genes, Environment and The Generation Game According to this article from The Guardian, September 6, 2014, New research claims that environmental factors affect not just an individual's genes but those of their offspring too. Diabetes, obesity – even certain phobias – may all be influenced by the behaviour of our forebears.

Epigenetics 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Explaining Everything Genetics researcher Cath Ennis wrote this primer for The Guardian newspaper explaining what epigenetics is and how it can help us understand human health and disease. Posted April 25, 2014.

Epigenetics and Its Major Influence on Life. In this essay, James D. Baird explains how the science of epigenetics is finding that genes aren’t our destiny, despite popular thinking. From Brain Blogger, June 11, 2015.

Epic Genetics: Genes’ chemical clothes may underlie the biology behind mental illness According to this article Epic Genetics" by Tina Hesman Saey, Epigenetics is elucidating how environmental cues make their marks on genes. Such discoveries could help in understanding the mentally ill mind and lead to new treatments for psychiatric disorders and addiction. From Science News'', May 24th, 2008; Vol.173 #17

Epigenetics at the Epicenter of Modern Medicine According to this article Epigenetics at the Epicenter of Modern Medicine by Andrew P. Feinberg, Epigenetics, the study of non-DNA sequence–related heredity, is at the epicenter of modern medicine because it can help to explain the relationship between an individual's genetic background, the environment, aging, and disease...including epigenetics into epidemiologic studies of human disease may help explain the relationship between the genome and the environment and may provide new clues to modifying these effects in disease prevention and therapy. From the Journal of the American Medical Association, (2008), 299(11):1345-1350.

Epigenetics: DNA isn't the whole story Most people see DNA as the most significant factor in genetics, but when it comes to behavioral differences—even those as complex as mothers' affection—researchers say we shouldn't overlook other biochemical factors. Biologists have recently begun looking harder at epigenetics—the chemical modification to DNA that can change genes' activity—to explain things that basic DNA transcription can't. This year's Neal E. Miller lecturer, Michael Meaney, PhD, explained why it's important to psychology at APA's 2009 Annual Convention according to Michael Price, in an article in the APA Monitor on Psychology, 40(9), 34. October, 2009.

Epigenetics: Brooke Greenberg: The Girl who Doesn’t Age. Brooke Greenberg is 17 years old but at 16 pounds and 30 inches she looks more like an infant. Scientists are trying to understand this "Syndrome X" which afflicts Brooke and only 3 other people in the entire world. Though it appears that her "Syndrome X" was coded (or mis-coded) in her genes, genetic testing revealed that her genes are perfectly normal. Scientists are stumped. Could the key to Brooke's syndrome be at the level of introns, parts of genes that regulate other genes (exons) rather than code directly for characteristics? New research in this field of epigenetics, which studies changes in phenotype (genetic expression) by process other than changes in the genetic sequence, may explain this condition.

Epigenetics: Childhood Adversity Can Lead to Genetic Changes According to research published online in PloS ONE, February 2012, childhood adversity may lead to epigenetic changes in the human glucocorticoid receptor gene, an important regulator of the biological stress response that may increase risk for psychiatric disorders and summarized here in Medical News Today, February 29, 2012.

Fearful ‘Memories’ Passed Between Generations Through Genetic Code Jeremy Dean of PsyBlog summarizes a study by Dias and Ressler (2013) which found evidence that mice who were conditioned to become afraid of a particular smell passed that fear onto their offspring. Could this transgenerational genetic response happen in humans? That's the big question. Published December 5, 2013.

The Long and the Short of It New research suggests that stress takes a toll on us at the most basic level: our genes. Over time, telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of our chromosome what protects our genetic data become shorter and die, leading to a wide range of aging-related diseases including dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. From the APS Observer, volume 27(9), November 2014.

The Possible Role of Epigenetics in Sexual Orientation Epigenetics - how gene expression is regulated by temporary switches, called epi-marks - appears to be a critical and overlooked factor contributing to the long-standing puzzle of why homosexuality occurs, according to a study, published online in The Quarterly Review of Biology, and summarized here in Medical News Today'', December 13, 2012.

The Evolution of Beauty Back in 1959 geneticist Dmitry Belyaev started an experiment in Russia in which he bred silver foxes to make them tamer, and thus easier to raise for their prized fur. However, selecting for friendly behavior had the unanticipated result of also selecting for certain facial features. The result is that the same hormones which regulate behavior also regulates physical development. But even more amazing is the implication that beauty and an even temperament and friendliness also co-occurs in humans. Read all about the findings in this fascinating article from The Economist, November 16, 2013.

Genetic Risk for Anxiety Does Not Have to Be Destiny Gene-by-environment interactions that place some people at risk for depression, anxiety disorders and alcohol abuse may not be the whole story. Monkeys with a gene which puts them at risk for aggression and anxiety were raised either in small or large group cages. While the monkeys raised in small groups were more likely to be aggressive and anxious, monkeys reared in large, social cages were protected from developing these problems. From Science Daily, May 3, 2009.

Genetics By The Numbers: 10 Tantalizing Tales LiveScience, summarizes these interesting facts about genes and inheritance including the length of human DNA, the number of genes in the human genome, the percent of our genome which is noncoding DNA and more. Published online June 11, 2012.

The Genetic Predisposition to Focus on the Negative Research by Rebecca Todd and colleagues suggests that people with the ADRA2b gene are more likely to take not of negative emotional events than people without the gene. The was no difference in the processing of positive emotion words by people with and without the gene. From PsyBlog, October 2013.

Genetic Testing: An Inborn Talent Genetic Test? Unlikely. For Jesse Reynolds, Project Director on Biotechnology Accountability at the Center for Genetics and Society, one test captures much of what's wrong with personal genetics testing. Read his view here, which includes links to some controversial uses of genetic testing like genetic testing in China, Berkeley's testing of incoming freshman, and the Food and Drug Administration's halting of genomic test kits in Walgreens. Read all about it on his Genetic Crossroads Blog for Psychology Today here.

Genome Mania We are in a similarly explosive period right now with the sequencing of the human genome (and others) serving as the point of entry to an entire new era in science in much the same way that the solution of the DNA double helix just over 50 years ago ushered in a new era according to Stephen Quake in this opinion piece from The New York Times, March 3, 2009

Genotype-Environment Interaction: Spanking and Genetics May Increase Childhood Aggression in Boys Boys, but not girls, who were exposed to spanking as a disciplinary tactic were at particular risk for aggressive behavior if they have certain genetic risk factors according to research by Boutwell et all (2011), published in Aggressive Behavior and summarized here in Science Daily, March 5, 2012.

How Evolution Works, Animated in Minimalist Motion Graphics This simple and engaging cartoon explains the basics of evolution and why DNA copying errors explain blue eyes. Runs 11 minutes 48 seconds. Warning: contains a cartoon depiction of sex at 4:13.

How Your Brain Reacts to Emotional Information is Influenced by Your Genes According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience and summarized here for ScienceDaily, Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information ... carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions. Posted May 7, 2015.

Mugged By Our Genes? Last Monday, Nicholas Hughes, son of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, killed himself. His mother was one of the world’s most famous suicides, and news stories have mentioned the tendency of suicide and depression to run in families. But this tragic inheritance is just part of a more complex story in which our lives are shaped by genes, environment — and unexpected connections between the two according to Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang in this opinion piece from The New York Times, March 24, 2009

Genes and Personality Azar, B. (2002). Searching for genes that explain our personalities, American Psychological Association Monitor, Volume 33, No. 8 September 2002 (print version page 44).

Genes Make Some People More Prone to Anxiety By showing that people who carry a common variation of a gene that regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine have an exaggerated "startle" reflex when viewing unpleasant pictures, the researchers offer a biochemical explanation for why some people find it harder to regulate emotional arousal. Their sensitivity may, in combination with other hereditary and environmental factors, make them more prone to anxiety disorders. Montag, C., Buckholtz, J. W., Hartmann, P., Merz, M., Burk, C., & Reuter, M. (2008). COMT genetic variation affects fear processing: Psychophysiological evidence. Behavioral Neuroscience, 122(4), 901-909.

Genetic Basis Of Musical Aptitude: Neurobiology Of Musicality Related To Intrinsic Attachment Behavior Music is social communication between individuals -- humming of lullabies attach infant to parent and singing or playing music adds croup cohesion. The neurobiology of music perception and production is likely to be related to the pathways affecting intrinsic attachment behavior, suggests a recent Finnish study. The study gives new information about genetic background of musical aptitude. This summary, from ScienceDaily, May 27, 2009, summarizes the research of Liisa Ukkola and colleagues at the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy.

Genetics and Behavior Overview of definitions and research methodologies.

Genes, Brains and Behavior Essays on genetics and behavior.

Genetic Screening: Ethical issues The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, London, prepared this report to encourage debate about the ethical issues raised by research on genes associated with psychological and behavioral traits. Read their report, reviews of the evidence, and other materials here.

Genome Projects Find information about the Human Genome Project including project facts; educational materials; medicine and the new genetics; ethical, legal and social issues and materials for teachers here.

Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes This fascinating article explains the process of epigenetics and how Your ancestors' lousy childhoods or excellent adventures might change your personality, bequeathing anxiety or resilience by altering the epigenetic expressions of genes in the brain. By Dan Hurley for Discover Magazine, May 2013.

Happiness Gene Located A gene which regulates the movement of serotonin in the brain has been labeled the "happiness gene" by researchers from the London School of Economics and reported in the Journal of Human Genetics. This is the first study to demonstrate a direct link between an individual's happiness and a specific genetic condition according to research by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and summarized here in Medical News Today, May 7, 2011.

Homosexual Behavior Largely Shaped By Genetics And Random Environmental Factors. According to the world's largest study of twins by Niklas Långström and colleagues published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, June 7, 2008, homosexual behaviour is largely shaped by genetics and random environmental factors...which may include biological processes (which are specific to an individual, and may include biological processes such as different hormone exposure in the womb), are important determinants of homosexual behaviour.

Human Genome Project The Human Genome Project created this free online multimedia educational kit "Exploring Our Molecular Selves" for high school students and the interested public. The kit can be viewed online or downloaded, and includes the following topics: A Dynamic Timeline; Genes, Variation and Human History; How to Sequence a Genome; Ethical, Legal and Social Issues; Bioinformatics; Exploring Our Molecular Selves (Video); and a Glossary of Genetic Terms.

Infidelity Gene? Genetic Link To Relationship Difficulties Found ScienceDaily, Sep. 2, 2008, summarizes research by Hasse Walum and colleagues at the Karolinska Institutet who have found a link between a specific gene and the way men bond to their partners. The results, which are presented in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can lead to a better understanding of such problems as autism and social phobia

It's Nature, Not Nurture: Personality Lies in Genes, Twins Study Shows Genes play a greater role in determining key personality traits like social skills and learning ability than the way we are rough up by our parents, according to research by Timothy Bates and colleagues in The Journal of Personality and summarized in this article from The Telegraph, May 16, 2013.

Learn Genetics The Genetics Science Learning Center at the University of Utah built this website to disseminate educational materials on genetics, bioscience, and health. Includes animations to teach the basics of DNA, genes, heredity and traits, and more.

Lesch: An interview with Dr. Klaus-Peter Lesch From the website: In-cites talks with Dr. Klaus-Peter Lesch about his paper, "Association of anxiety-related traits with a polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene regulatory region," (Science 274[5292]: 1527-31, 29 November 1996), as well as his related research. This paper has been named a Highly Cited Paper in the field of Neuroscience & Behavior by Essential Science Indicators, and currently has a total of 1,160 citations to its credit. Includes a summary of the paper and a description of his current work.

Lesson Plan: Genetics. Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications, provides a Lesson Plans Library of hundreds of original lesson plans written by teachers for teachers for elementary, middle, and high school students. Some lesson plans include suggestions for adaptations for older or younger audiences. Borrow them as-is or use them to spark your own lesson plans. In this plan on Genetics, student will: Describe the technologies make that make genetic manipulation possible, identify situations in which genetic manipulation could solve a problem and debate the positive or negative arguments of the ethical issues surrounding the use of genetic manipulation.

Lesson Plan: Understanding the Power of Genes. Discovery Education, a division Discovery Communications, provides a Lesson Plans Library of hundreds of original lesson plans written by teachers for teachers for elementary, middle, and high school students. Some lesson plans include suggestions for adaptations for older or younger audiences. Borrow them as-is or use them to spark your own lesson plans. In this plan on genetics students will discuss new scientific information about genes; consider how that information is changing thoughts about human behavior and scientific research; and write essays about how information about genetics affects private homes, the research laboratory, and hospitals and clinics.

Lesson Plan: Genetic Engineering. Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications, provides a Lesson Plans Library of hundreds of original lesson plans written by teachers for teachers for elementary, middle, and high school students. Some lesson plans include suggestions for adaptations for older or younger audiences. Borrow them as-is or use them to spark your own lesson plans. In this plan on genetics students will: discover ethical issues surrounding the practice of genetic engineering in reproductive medicine; and understand key terms and concepts related to the science of genetic engineering.

Lesson Plan: Nature versus Nurture. Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications, provides a Lesson Plans Library of hundreds of original lesson plans written by teachers for teachers for elementary, middle, and high school students. Some lesson plans include suggestions for adaptations for older or younger audiences. Borrow them as-is or use them to spark your own lesson plans. In this lesson, students will learn that environment can influence some personality traits, while others are genetic; understand that the most effective way to study the concept of nature versus nurture is by conducting research with identical and fraternal twins reared separately and together; and discover that the issues of nature versus nurture are still debated in the scientific community.

Loneliness is a Molecule. Summary of research by S. W. Cole, L. C. Hawkley, J. M. Arevalo, C. Y. Sung, R. M. Rose and J. T. Cacioppo (2007): UCLA researchers have identified a distinct pattern of gene expression in immune cells from people who experience chronically high levels of loneliness. The findings suggest that feelings of social isolation are linked to alterations in the activity of genes that drive inflammation, the first response of the immune system. The study provides a molecular framework for understanding why social factors are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, viral infections and cancer. From Science Daily, September 17, 2007.

Mapping Mindsets: The World of Cultural Neuroscience Summarizes research suggesting that cultural differences in emotional expression may be linked to neuroplasticity, genetics, and a genotype-environment interaction. From the APS Observer, December 2013.

Meditation Changes How Genes Are Expressed Research by Kaliman et al. (2014) found that people who meditated, compared to control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities, showed changes in gene functioning at the molecular level, demonstrating epigenetic alterations of the genome. See also here

My Genome, My Self. Cognitive Psychologist Steven Pinker explores and debates the possibilities and pitfalls of consumer genetics in which affordable genotyping may offer new kinds of answers to the question “Who am I?” — to ruminations about our ancestry, our vulnerabilities, our character and our choices in life in this New York Times article from January 7, 2009 (remember that you can access articles from the New York Times for free by registering on their website).

Nature-Nurture Debate An overview of the issues by Norman, Gill (2003). The Great Debate: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human. Newcastle Science Festival.

Nature v Nurture: Research Shows It’s Both A meta-analysis of almost every twin study conducted from across the world shows that the average variation for human traits and diseases is 49% genetic and 51% due to environmental factors. This, according to research published in the journal Nature Genetics and summarized here. Published May 15, 2015.

A Neuroscientist Uncovers a Dark Secret Neuroscientist James Fallon, upon learning that he came from a lineage of violent people, compared the brain scans of his family and was disturbed to realize that his brain resembled the brain of a psychopath. In this story by Barbara Bradley Hagerty from NPR's Morning Edition from June 29 2010, Fallon reflects upon the science of genetics, neuroscience, and the role of nurture in making us who we are. This link is to the text version of the story. Links are also available to listen to the original broadcast, about 8 minutes. First story in the three-part series ''Inside the Criminal Brain". Part 2 Inside a Psychopath's Brain: The Sentencing Debate is available here and Part 3: Can Your Genes Make You Murder? is available here

The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) site, of Johns Hopkins University, is a comprehensive, authoritative, and timely compendium of human genes and genetic phenotypes. The full-text, referenced overviews in OMIM contain information on all known mendelian disorders and over 12,000 genes. OMIM focuses on the relationship between phenotype and genotype. It is updated daily, and the entries contain copious links to other genetics resources. The real beauty of this site is that you can enter the name of a gene and read a summary of what we know, or enter a disease (or a personalty trait!) and find out what known genetic mechanisms exist for that characteristic.

The Orchid Effect: How Relationships and Genetics Influence Your Health Research by S. C. Suth and R. F. Krueger, published in Psychological Science found evidence for a genotype-environment interaction or an orchid effect in which really bad marriages are capable of turning on (and even amplifying) any genetic predispositions one might have to experiencing poor health. But really good marriages may help "good health" genes thrive more so than they would have otherwise. From the Science of Relationships blog, December 2, 2013.

Parents' Stress Leaves Lasting Marks on Children's Genes Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Child & Family Research Institute have shown that parental stress during their children's early years can leave an imprint on their sons' or daughters' genes -- an imprint that lasts into adolescence and may affect how these genes are expressed later in life according to research published in Child Development and summarized here in ScienceDaily, August 30, 2011.

Personal Genome Project. The Personal Genome Project believes that individuals from the general public have a vital role to play in making personal genomes useful. We are recruiting volunteers who are willing to share their genome sequence and many types of personal information with the research community and the general public, so that together we will be better able to advance our understanding of genetic and environmental contributions to human traits and to improve our ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness. To this end, they are hoping to create a public database of genomes and characteristics of 100,000 people. Find out more about this project and meet their volunteers -- including in-depth summaries of their personal information -- on this site.

Psychologists Discover A Gene's Link to Optimism, Self-Esteem According to research by Shelley E. Taylor and colleagues, and summarized here, researchers have identified a gene linked to optimism, self-esteem, and mastery. From Medical Xpress, September 14, 2011.

The Psychology of Cells New techniques are allowing researchers to measure how the environment affects gene expression, leading to some remarkable insights, including the finding that loneliness primes the immune system to turn on its inflammatory response — a risk factor for disease. according to research summarized in this article by Beth Azar for the APA Monitor, May 2011.

Resurrecting The Czar Genetic testing of DNA is helping to the solve the mystery of what really happened to Czar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their five children. Learn about how science is being used to solve one of history's enduring mysteries in article from the November 2010 Smithsonian magazine.

The Science of Success The Atlantic Magazine ran this article December 2009 summarizing research on the genetics of resilience: Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people.

Scientists find genetic link to depression Scientists say they have discovered the first solid evidence that variations in some peoples' genes may cause depression […] And in a rare occurrence in genetic research, a British-led international team's finding of a DNA region linked to depression has been replicated by another team from the United States who were studying an entirely separate group of people, Reuters, May 16, 2011.

Selective Breeding of the Silver Fox. From the website The silver fox, a color variation of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), has been domesticated in a controlled experiment at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia. Starting in 1959, and selected solely on behavioral criteria for more than 40 generations, a strain of foxes with behavior extremely similar to domestic dogs was produced. Tame foxes exhibit highly social behavior with both other members of their own species and humans in a playful, friendly manner. In contrast, foxes from an unselected population, or from a strain bred for aggressive behavior, avoid social interactions with humans. Check out videos of fox behavior, a map of the fox genome, recent publications and more on this project which is an international collaborative between Cornell University, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the University of Utah.

Siblings Share Genes, But Rarely Personalities Excellent summary of the surprising finding that while siblings growing up in the same family are more similar than two kids picked at random, they are ``not much more'' similar, according to Robert Plomin. Describes the three current explanations behind this finding: The principle of divergence, non-shared environment, and exaggeration. Story by Alix Spiegel for NPR, November 22, 2010. Also available in audio (8 minutes, 48 seconds).

Social Experiences Affect Our Genes and Health Scientists are uncovering increasing evidence that changes in the expression of hundreds of genes can occur as a result of the social environments we inhabit. As a result of these dynamics, experiences we have today can affect our health for days and even months into the future according to research by George Slavich and Steven Cole at the University of California, Los Angeles, and summarized here in the APS Observer, May/June 2013.

Teach Genetics The Genetics Science Learning Center at the University of Utah built this website as a companion to their Learn.Genetics website. Here you will find classroom activities to teach the basics of heritable traits and take-home activities to help students share what they've learned with their families. PDFs are available for download including instructions, student worksheets, overhead masters, and answer keys. Some of the material may be too basic for a college class (although the graphics which review the basics of inheritance would make an excellent review), the topics do include Epigenetics, gene therapy, personalized medicine, cloning, and other fairly sophisticated topics. Most of the activities can be modified to fit the needs of your students and the topic of personality.

A Thing or Two About Twins From the website: They have the same piercing eyes. The same color hair. One may be shy, while the other loves meeting new people. Discovering why identical twins differ—despite having the same DNA—could reveal a great deal about all of us. Good explanation of epigenetics from National Geographic, January 2012 by Peter Miller.

Twins. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, has an excellent overview about the genetics of twins.

Twins. In August 1997 the magazine Psychology Today ran this summary of twin research and the misperceptions of twin research written by twin researcher Nancy Segal and colleagues.

Twins Don't Share Everything Scientists have discovered twins show differences in their DNA at birth due to differences in their epigenetics, the molecules that act on genes, according to this article, by Stephen Ornes, in Science News for Students, July 31, 2012.

We Can't Undo What Our Parents Have Given Us Royal Society fellow and epigenetics researcher Edith Heard clarifies the facts and downplays the hype behind recent developments in genetics and epigenetics in this article from The Guardian, June 22, 2013.

Why Parenting Can Never Have a Rule Book: Children's Genetics Significantly Affect How They Are Parented A meta-analysis published in the October 2013 Personality and Social Psychology Review by Reut Avinun and Ariel Knafo describes how individual parenting styles may be a reaction to the child's genotype in this summary from Science Daily, September 3, 2013.

What's On Your Genes? Written for kids, this overview of genetics nonetheless does an excellent job of explaining Mendellian inheritance and epigenetics.

Who Am I? Your Genes The Science Museum of National Museum of Science and Industry (NMSI), London, UK sponsors an extensive website. Check out their interactive online exhibit on Who Am I? featuring videos, pictures, handouts, and information on understanding your body, your brain, and your genes. This page on Your Genes answers the questions where did your genes come from, what was the Human Genome project, how do genes affect your health, and others.

Assignments, Exercises, and Activities

Do Your Hands Have Family Traits? Check out these two projects from Science Buddies: In these hands-on genetics projects and activities, students investigate a family pedigree to see if they can determine whether traits are dominant or recessive. Do you and some (or all) of your family members share certain physical traits? Is a widow's peak passed down from generation to generation? Find out!

Genetically Engineer Your Own Child This somewhat creepy, satirical website allows visitors to create a genetically engineered child by selecting various characteristics such as gender, eye color, and sexual orientation. Once you find out the genetic code of your offspring, you can choose to have certain characteristics and disorders altered, if you are willing to spend the money. In the process, the visitor is forced to think about the value society places on certain attributes (e.g. IQ, musical ability, sexual orientation, AIDS, ADHD and others) and the ethicality of genetic engineering. The site was created as a piece of performance art and is not a real institution despite its authentic look and feel.

Genetics and Gender Differences in Ideal Mate Selection. Scott Bates, Utah State University, does the following exercise to introduce the topic of Genetics to his students: On the second day of class, I collect data via a survey (these data provide good lecture material throughout the course). One of the questions that I ask is this: List the top three characteristics of an IDEAL MATE (a person with whom you would like to spend the rest of your life). Use adjectives. If you’ve already married (or found) your ideal mate, then list the three most important characteristics that attracted you to him/her. I then have a TA code the responses into categories (e.g., physical appearance, social status, etc). Then, when I get to the topic of genes/environment, or evolution, I introduce human mate-selection and present material on evolutionary/genetic influences. The compelling part is that I present students' data, by category, by sex. Males have always listed physical characteristics (e.g., pretty, hot, nice looking) more often than women. Women have always listed loyalty (e.g., faithful, trustworthy) and social status (e.g., ambitious, good job prospects) more often than men. (from the PSYTEACH discussion list, January 22, 2009).

Six Creative Ways to Teach Genetics A selection of creative ways to help students of all ages and abilities understand genes and genetic disorders. From The Guardian, September 7, 2015.

Your Family Health History: A DNA Day Activity This PDF describes how to create a family tree or pedigree documenting medical conditions which may run in families, but you can easily adapt the activity to focus on personality traits.

Current Researchers and Research Team Pages

Moffitt and Caspi This extensive website of developmental psychology researchers Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi presents an overview of their research, links to publications, a section on what's new, and more. Of particular interest, is a special section on Gene X Environment effects, including empirical studies, theory and methods, public engagement, topics of debate, and summaries of their work suitable for classroom discussion.

Electronic Texts

Behavioral Genetics Behavioral Genetics: An introduction to how genes and environments interact through development to shape differences in mood, personality, and intelligence. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and The Hastings Center have made this book free and available for downloading. This book is an introduction for non-scientists to the science of behavioral genetics and its broader ethical and social implications. Among the topics covered are how scientists explore the influence of genes and environment on behavior and how such research may challenge our understanding of human nature, personal responsibility, and equality.

e-Textbook From the electronic textbook created for undergraduate courses in General Psychology by George Boeree of Shippensburg University.

Weiss, Bates, & Luciano (2008): Happiness is in the Genes Weiss, A., Bates, T. C., & Luciano, M. (2008). Happiness Is a Personal(ity) Thing: The Genetics of Personality and Well-Being in a Representative Sample. Psychological Science 19 (3), 205-210. (opens in PDF format)

Examples and Illustrations

Famous Black Lives Through DNA's Prism This New York Times article gives an overview of the new PBS Series African-American Lives 2 in which Henry Louis Gates Jr. uses DNA evidence, archival research, and good old-fashioned detective work to trace the family trees of Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, Tina Turner and others. Includes a brief video and links to related web sites.

A Genetic Map of Europe Biologists have constructed a genetic map of Europe showing the degree of relatedness between its various populations. New York Times writer Nicholas Wade's explanation of genetic variation provides a good illustration of genetics and evoked cultural variation. Originally published on August 13, 2008.

Raising Awareness of Genetic Disorders: Jeans for Genes Day As part of their mission, Jeans for Genes Day, which raises awareness of genetic disorders and money for people with genetic disorders, created five minute films that are narrated by children who are either affected by a genetic disorder themselves or have an affected sibling. Each film is accompanied by a teacher fact sheet and a number of resources that can be used in the classroom.

Lecture Notes

Slide Presentations

Tests, Measures, and Scales

Multimedia Resources

Animal Code: Our Favorite Genomes LiveScience presents this slide show of their 10 favorite projects mapping the genomes of various animals --- including humans --- such as the cow, turkey, orangutan, rhesus monkey, and others. Genome sequencing can explain unusual animal traits, lead to disease-resistant animals, shed light on evolutionary processes, and much more.

Changing Brains Helen Neville and her colleagues at the University of Oregon Brain Development Lab created this 12-part program to help parents, educators, policy-makers, and care-givers of young children understand how and when experience shapes the development of the human brain. Separate segments focus on vision, hearing, motor skills, attention, language, reading, math, music, and emotions and learning.

Cloning Fido: Playing God With Dog This brief episode from the ABC News program Night Line describes how a woman had her beloved pet cloned by a South Korean company. With a high failure rate of clones and the questionable treatment of laboratory animals, the piece raises important questions including: Do identical genes make for an identical dog? How are surrogate dogs treated after they give birth? Is it ethical to swap one animal's life for another? Does the high number of failed attempts justify the few successful ones? Originally aired January 6, 2012 (runs 5 minutes, 48 seconds).

GATTACA The web page for this 1997 sci fi movie with the wonderful tag line There is no gene for the human spirit includes brief video clips. These clips would be an attention-grabbing way to introduce students to the basic questions about genetics and personality. And it's fun to see Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law early in their careers.

Genotype-Environment Interaction Perhaps you've seen this cute video of the baby emphatically chattering on and on to her dad. Have your class imagine the kind of reactions she is likely to elicit from people around her --- starting with her dad and her mom --- and you've got a good illustration of an active genotype-environment interaction (1 minute and 22 seconds).

Gorillas, Watermelons and Sperm: The Greatest Genomes Sequenced in 2012 Scientists identified the genetic codes of some of the world's most fascinating animals and plants. Check out what they found in this online photo gallery of 8 stunning images posted by Popular Science, January 2, 2013.

Human Genome Project The Human Genome Project created this free online multimedia educational kit "Exploring Our Molecular Selves" for high school students and the interested public. The kit can be viewed online or downloaded, and includes the following topics: A Dynamic Timeline; Genes, Variation and Human History; How to Sequence a Genome; Ethical, Legal and Social Issues; Bioinformatics; Exploring Our Molecular Selves (Video); and a Glossary of Genetic Terms.

Identical Strangers Explore Nature vs. Nature Paula Bernstein and Eylse Schein were identical twins who were separated at birth and met 35 years later as identical strangers. In the course of researching the history of their birth and adoption, they discovered that they were part of a secret research project in which identical twins, particularly those of mothers with mental illness, were raised separately to asses the relative influence of nature and nurture. This NPR story describing their amazing story includes a photo gallery of the twins growing up. Based on their book Identical Strangers (Random House, 2007). From All Things Considered, NPR, October 25, 2007.

Genetics: Nature or Nurture? The New Role of Epigenetics In this lecture from August, 2014, Eastern Illinois University psychologist Jeffrey Stowell, PhD, discusses epigenetics, including a look at genetics and behavior and epigenetic mechanisms. From his APA Pre-Convention Workshop for Introductory Psychology Teachers. Runs 30 minutes, 24 seconds.

A Neuroscientist Uncovers a Dark Secret Neuroscientist James Fallon, upon learning that he came from a lineage of violent people, compared the brain scans of his family and was disturbed to realize that his brain resembled the brain of a psychopath. In this story by Barbara Bradley Hagerty from NPR's Morning Edition from June 29 2010, Fallon reflects upon the science of genetics, neuroscience, and the role of nurture in making us who we are. This link is to the text version of the story. Links are also available to listen to the original broadcast, about 8 minutes. First story in the three-part series ''Inside the Criminal Brain". Part 2 Inside a Psychopath's Brain: The Sentencing Debate is available here and Part 3: Can Your Genes Make You Murder? is available here

Helen Neville on Experiential, Genetic and Epigenetic Effects on Human Neurocognitive Development Recent advances in neuroscience have effectively put an end to the “nature or nurture” debate. Instead, the focus of discussion has switched to mechanisms and brain-based interventions — in what ways are neural circuits changed by experience? When is the brain most receptive to education and learning? And what effects does high versus low socioeconomic status (SES) have on the development of neurocognition? Helen Neville addresses these questions in her 2013 APS William James Fellow Award Address. Rums 50 minutes and 13 seconds.

The Photographic Fascination With Twins Photographer Martin Schoeller capture these portraits of three sets of identical twins to illustrate a recent story in National Geographic: In Schoeller's portraits, eyes are like an open book. His portraits are studies of the face's physical topography, but also of our irrepressible emotions — how they translate to the twinkle of an eye or the wrinkle on a forehead.

Photo Gallery: A Thing or Two About Twins From the website: Photographer Jodi Cobb captures the interaction between twins --- and how they can be both alike and different --- in this photo gallery.

Photos of Identical Twins As Grown-Ups Show How Fate Takes Its Course Beijing-based photographer Gao Rongguo captured this series of photos of men and women --- identical twins --- over 50 years of age. These haunting images raises the question of how genetics and our experiences make us who we are. Posted March 2014.

Proposed Treatment To Fix Genetic Diseases Raises Ethical Issues NPR's Morning Edition reports that The federal government is considering whether to allow scientists to take a controversial step: make changes in some of the genetic material in a woman's egg that would be passed down through generations. From October 9, 2013. Listen to the full story and read the transcript here. Runs 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

Selective Breeding of the Silver Fox. From the website The silver fox, a color variation of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), has been domesticated in a controlled experiment at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia. Starting in 1959, and selected solely on behavioral criteria for more than 40 generations, a strain of foxes with behavior extremely similar to domestic dogs was produced. Tame foxes exhibit highly social behavior with both other members of their own species and humans in a playful, friendly manner. In contrast, foxes from an unselected population, or from a strain bred for aggressive behavior, avoid social interactions with humans. Check out videos of fox behavior, a map of the fox genome, recent publications and more on this project which is an international collaborative between Cornell University, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the University of Utah.

Should We Genetically Screen Four-Year-Olds? Would true equality in education mean testing children's genetics at the age of four, so that any learning difficulties revealed can be accommodated right from the start of primary education? Hear Robert Plomin on the role genetics play in children’s success. From The Guardian, July 17, 2015. (audio interview; runs 42 minutes and 46 seconds).

Siblings Share Genes, But Rarely Personalities Excellent summary of the surprising finding that while siblings growing up in the same family are more similar than two kids picked at random, they are ``not much more'' similar, according to Robert Plomin. Describes the three current explanations behind this finding: The principle of divergence, non-shared environment, and exaggeration. Story by Alix Spiegel for NPR, November 22, 2010. Also available in audio (8 minutes, 48 seconds).

Nova: Stem Cell Breakthrough. Three separate teams overcome a biomedical hurdle—creating stem cells without the use of human embryos. Learn about their research here and much more about stem cells including related science news, links and books, transcript, and a teacher's guide The program, 13 minutes and 39 seconds long, originally aired on PBS July 23, 2008 and is available in closed captioning. Click through to the teacher's guide for a shortened version 5 minutes and 16 seconds long.

Who Am I? Your Genes The Science Museum of National Museum of Science and Industry (NMSI), London, UK sponsors an extensive website. Check out their interactive online exhibit on Who Am I? featuring videos, pictures, handouts, and information on understanding your body, your brain, and your genes. This page on Your Genes answers the questions where did your genes come from, what was the Human Genome project, how do genes affect your health, and others.


Page last modified by October 29, 2015, at 04:32 PM