Essay on Behavioral Genetic Determinism: Do Genes Equal Behavior?

Essay on Behavioral Genetic Determinism: Do Genes Equal Behavior?

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Behavioral Genetic Determinism: Do Genes Equal Behavior?

Human behavior is a loosely defined foundation for individuality, generally considered to be influenced and developed by the environment. However, recent molecular studies have exposed genetic factors that suggest a more biological origin for behavior. Gene segments in the genome of humans and other animals have been identified and associated with particular behavioral traits. Is it possible that the presence or absence of even a single gene may predispose one to alcoholism, increased irritability, or enhanced intelligence? Clearly exploration of the nature versus nurture argument with regard to genetic predisposition has social, political, and legal significance.

Employing "behavior" as the experimental variant requires identification of intrinsic behavioral characteristics that may be very difficult to define. Intelligence is considered an expression of behavior, yet the delineation of what makes an individual intelligent has been highly debated. Does IQ determine intelligence? Or is economic success indicative of intelligence? Once an experimenter is comfortable with his proposed definition for a behavior, the characteristic must be reliably and validly measured. However, if the relationship between, for example, intelligence and IQ is not clear, then assigning parameters for levels of intelligence will be even more challenging (1).

Genetically influenced traits tend to be polygenic in character, involving many genes acting in concert to produce a certain response. Therefore, association of one gene with one behavior is usually only partially conclusive. Behavior depends on the interaction of multiple gene sequences with environmental influences. ...


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...ww.aafp.org/fpr/20001100/07.html

7) Genetics of Childhood Disorders: Williams Syndrome and Brain-Behavior Relationships
http://www.med.yale.edu/chldstdy/plomdevelop/genetics/01maygen.htm

8) Deering, R., Kaplan, P., Nicholson, S. Williams Syndrome and Anesthesia: Evaluation of a Large Unselected Cohort. Presented at the Williams Syndrome Conference in MI (2000). In publication, Journal of Pediatrics.

9) Williams Syndrome: An Unusual Neuropsychological Profile
http://crl.ucsd.edu/courses/commdis/pdf/Bellugi-et-al.pdf

10) Williams Syndrome: From Brain to Cognition
http://lcn.salk.edu/genetics/wms/wms_ency_paper/ency_wms.html

11) Toward Behavioral Genomics
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/291/5507/1232

12) Genes and Behavior: A Complex Relationship
http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/publicat/judicature/article4.html

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