Outline and initial reading list: Psychology 503 A

Core Concepts in Behavioral Genetics (Graduate) 4 Credits, Graded (4 point scale)

 Meets Monday and Wednesday, 11:30-12:50, Chem Library room 202C

Format. Twice-weekly meetings will comprise a combination of lecture and open seminar discussion. There will be assigned readings from a text books and/or key primary papers for the first meeting each week. The second meeting will be a discussion led by students, based on recent papers from the primary literature of their choosing. For each presentation they make, students will compile and distribute an annotated bibliography of recent important papers on the topic.

Week: Tentative topic, Associated readings:

Course description: Psychologists from diverse subdisciplines increasingly recognize the importance of neural and other physiological mechanisms as the foundation for understanding, analyzing, and manipulating behavior. Genetic mechanisms underlie neural development and regulation, and genetic differences among individuals can account for much observed behavioral variation. An understanding of behavioral genetics is therefore critical to students' appreciation of dynamic control and ontogeny of behavior. Recent technical developments allow investigators to go beyond classical gene-behavioral difference associations. New methods permit timing, localizing, and quantifying gene expression; manipulating genes and gene expression; and exploring the evolution of gene effects on behavior through comparative analysis. These approaches allow us to study genetic effects as a developmental process. A gene-expression perspective encourages a focus on the complex genotype-environment interactions that lead to behavioral variation and behavioral outcomes.


1 Genetic and behavioral variation; statistics

J. Cohen. 1996. Does nature drive nurture? Science 273: 577-578

L. Tecott & S. Barondes. 1996. Behavioral genetics: genes and aggressiveness. Curr. Biol. 6: 238-240.


2 Modern techniques

S. Ogawa & D. Pfaff. 1996. Application of antisense DNA method for the study of molecular bases of brain function and behavior. Behav. Genet. 26: 279-292.


3 Animal models I

R.L. Davis. 1996. Physiology and biochemistry of Drosophila learning mutants. Physiol. Rev. 76: 299-317.


4 Animal models II

A.J. Helbig. 1996. Genetic basis, mode of inheritance and evolutionary changes of migratory directions in Palearctic warblers (Aves: Silvidae). J. Exper. Biol. 199: 49-55.

G.J. Hunt et al. 1995. Major quantitative trait loci affecting honey bee foraging behavior. Genetics 141: 1537-45.


5 Cognition, learning and intelligence

H. Lipp. 1996. Genetic variability, individuality, and the evolution of the mammalian brain. Behav. Process. 35: 19-33.


6 Personality

C. Mellins et al. 1996. Children's methods of coping with stress: a twin study of genetic and environmental influences. J. Child Psychol. Phychiat. 6: 721-730.


7 Human behavioral development and aging


8 Mate choice and reproduction

M. Small. 1998. Love with the proper stranger. Nat. Hist. Sept.


9 Genetics of behavioral disorders


10 Evolutionary psychology