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Genes and Evolution at Work on the Brain Notes.docx

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Temple University
PSY 1071
Joel Sheffield

Kate Sydnes Psychology as a Natural Science September 27, 2011 Genes and Evolution at Work on the Brain The human genome – mapped in 2001 - Consisted of identifying all 30,000 genes in our chromosomes I. Basic Genetics a. Nucleus i. Chromosomes – threadlike structures made mostly of DNA, sections of which may be broken up into genes ii. Cells contain the entire set of an individual’s DNA(contains instructions for making proteins, i.e. the building blocks of new cells) b. Human Genome i. Contains 46 chromosomes, one copy is stored in every sections ii. Genes are segments of DNAcapable of synthesizes a protein 1. Proteins are the basic chemicals that make up the structure of cells (structural) and describe their activities (enzymes) iii. Gene expression - the process through which a gene produces protein 1. Not all genes are outwardly expressed a. Genotype: the genetic constitution of the organism (a person’s mapped genes) b. Phenotype: the observable characteristics of an individual (results from both genetics and environmental influences 2. Most human attributes are polygenic a. Influenced by many genes as well as the environment (eg. Height, IQ, personality, etc.) II. GeneticAbnormalities a. People are like undeveloped photographs… i. Genes provide options, the environment determines which option is taken 1. Ex: fetal alcohol syndrome: brain is smaller, less convoluted (less functioning), different facial features b. Sometimes doctors who specialize in genetic disorders can sometimes guess what genetic abnormality a person has based on the person’s facial features c. Both nature and nurture affect development i. Only 2/3 identical twins share the same placenta (different placentas = different traits) ii. Who we are is a product of both our genes and our environment iii. Behavior geneticists study the effects of genes and the environment on different traits (e.g. violent behavior and MAO or monoamine oxidase) III. Effects of Genes and Environment a. Twin studies i. Identical twins share the same genes, fraternal only 50% ii. Identical twins reared together share genes and environment iii. Identical twins reared apart share genes but not environment b. Adoption studies i. Are adopted children more like their biological or adoptive parents 1. Adoptee’s traits tend to bear more similarly to their biological parents than their adopted care-givers 2. Care-givers influence children’s attitudes, manners, faith, and politics 3. Adopted children tend to score h
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