The Processes by Which Genes and Environment Interact to Influence Development

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‘Genes’ refers to units of heredity information that consist of DNA and are located on chromosomes and can exist in alternative forms called alleles ( ‘Environment’ according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition states: “[Environment is] The totality of circumstances surrounding an organism or group of organisms, especially: the complex of social and cultural conditions affecting the nature of an individual or community.” A child grows to possess a detailed nature which obtains that particular form due to the effects of two major contributing factors. The first influence comes from the genetic structure which he inherits from his parents and the second looms from the collective experiences he has from his daily social interaction with his surrounding environment. The first section of the essay will present an insight on the influences of genetic as well as environmental factors on child development. This section will illustrate the different aspects of child development that are best understood within an epigenetic framework and how theories of child development ‘escape’ without considering gene environment interactions. The second section will discuss the interplay between genes and environment and their significant contributions in a child’s development such as intelligence and acquisition of ‘cultural tools’. In this section, we will look at the concept of individual differences, the importance of learning their existence and how biological processes affect individuality through the study of the transactional model. The theory of evolution is a useful approach to understand what aspects of a child develop during his lifespan and how they occur. Evolutionary theorists believed that development simply reproduces what was present in the previous generation and will be unchanged in perpetuity. Humans, however, change in many ways. They develop physical and psychological characteristics, each having its own set of causes and development. Our physical appearances and gender are a result of genetic influence. Females have two ‘X’ chromosomes while males have one ‘Y’ and one ‘X’ chromosome. Differences in physical development due to chromosome
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