Experiment finds link between genes and behaviour
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- This topic has 31 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 10 years, 4 months ago by steve colborn.
January 17, 2013 at 10:43 am #81692
By manipulating the genes of mice it is possible to effect their tunneling behaviour.
I had previously thought that the link between genes and behaviour had not be validated, now it appears it has.January 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm #91766
That's of mice not men. Since human behaviour is culturally-determined I doubt that it could be influenced by manipulating genes. The most I would think that genetic manipulation could have on human behaviour would be to change the limits of the behaviour an individual human could engage in.January 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm #91767AnonymousInactive
Not sure about this one, Adam, and the evidence is far from in! Is human behaviour entirely culturally-determined? I don't know but I suspect not. And isn't it true to say that mouse behaviour depends – at least to some extent – on environment?January 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm #91768AnonymousInactiveJonathan Chambers wrote:Not sure about this one, Adam, and the evidence is far from in! Is human behaviour entirely culturally-determined? I don't know but I suspect not. And isn't it true to say that mouse behaviour depends – at least to some extent – on environment?
Well, the two members of the forum who would oppose your assertion, and indeed have done elsewhere on this forum, have been silenced.January 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm #91769
The difference between mouse behaviour and human behaviour depends on the different proportions in which the behaviour of each is culturally determined and which is biologically determined. Most human behaviour is culturally determined (with only a few bodily reactions being genetically determined) while most mouse behaviour is biologically determined (not all, as researchers are finding that more and more of animal behaviour has to be learned).Mice have to tunnel to survive, but there is no human equivalent of this. We have to survive in nature but our genetic make-up is such that we can adopt different behaviour-patterns depending on the environment in which we find ourselves. Which explains why our behaviour has varied so much since our species evolved, in contrast to mouse behaviour which has hardly changed since mice first evolved.Since mice have to tunnel to survive it is not a great shock that researchers have discovered that it is genetically-determined. This is what you would expect and the achievement of the researchers is to have proved this by identifying the gene involved. If, Jonathan, you think that human behaviour could be changed by genetic engineering you need to come up with an example of what this might — in fact, conceivably could — be. What, in other words, would be the human equivalent of mouse tunnelling?So far, genetic research on humans has only found genes that influence the make-up of the body and so genetic engineering of humans would only be able to eliminate certain bodily defects, not change human behaviour (though of course eliminating these defects would allow those who might otherwise have inherited them to behave differently).January 18, 2013 at 6:58 pm #91770
I think it would be to mis-interpret the experiment to say that it proves that ALL mouse behaviour is genetically determined, I'm sure you could achieve the same results through the use of conditioning / behaviour reinforcement.As far as I know though this is the first clear demonstration of a manipulation in genes leading to a change in behaviour(?)Of course human behaviour is much more varied and complex than mouse behaviour. But it is the underlying genetic makeup which determines the scope of behaviour and how behaviour is reinforced. In humans it is culture that determines what is and what is not reinforced.The nature / nurture debate is over since genes are turned on and off depending on cues from the environment. It's a co-dependant relation.January 19, 2013 at 2:15 am #91771alanjjohnstoneKeymaster
Maybe this articles content may be of interest.—-If the Nazis exterminated well over 70% of diagnosed schizophrenics yet a generation later that nation had a higher rate of incidence of new cases of schizophrenia than did surrounding nations and accepting that those diagnosed with schizophrenia and other "seriously disabling mental disorders," like bipolar and major depression, have markedly lower reproductive rates compared with the general population, but the prevalence of these disorders throughout the industrialized world has increased, shouldn't we be asking questions about heritability?Instead of focusing on nature vs. nurture causes of mental illness, it's time to consider whether certain phenomena are really symptoms of pathology, or instead are inextricable aspects of our humanity. By pathologizing behaviors the pharmaceutical industry's antipsychotic drug bonanza is now more than $18 billion annually in the US alone. If we accept that hearing voices is not evidence of illness, but actually within the normal range of human experience, then, just as in the case of homosexuality, depression and life-sacrificing altruism, neither genocide nor lower reproductive rates will affect its prevalence. In other words, if phenomena are inextricably part of our humanity, to eliminate such phenomena, all human beings must be eliminated.http://truth-out.org/news/item/13851-what-happened-after-a-nation-methodically-murdered-its-schizophrenics-rethinking-mental-illness-and-geneticsJanuary 20, 2013 at 11:46 am #91772
Interesting news item here, revealing both the sort of thing that human genes govern and how culture governs human behaviour:http://www.bris.ac.uk/alspac/news/2013/164.htmlJanuary 20, 2013 at 2:29 pm #91773
Interesting, a relevant programme on "The Boxers of Bukom" just heard on the BBC world service:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00xtky9January 23, 2013 at 11:39 am #91774AnonymousInactiveALB wrote:If, Jonathan, you think that human behaviour could be changed by genetic engineering you need to come up with an example of what this might — in fact, conceivably could — be. What, in other words, would be the human equivalent of mouse tunnelling?So far, genetic research on humans has only found genes that influence the make-up of the body and so genetic engineering of humans would only be able to eliminate certain bodily defects, not change human behaviour (though of course eliminating these defects would allow those who might otherwise have inherited them to behave differently).
I didn't actually suggest that human behaviour could be modified by genetic engineering, Adam. I'm not sure it could. What I'm questioning is the assumption that all of human behaviour is, as you assert, culturally conditioned. It seems to me that making that assertion places you in a position where you have a great deal of explaining to do. For my part, I cannot think that the 'blank slate' argument has any merit and, further, that it appears to be false. How, for example, can we explain the often enormous disparities in behaviour between people who have grown up with almost indistinguishable cultural backgrounds? What is it that makes someone grow up to be, say, a serial killer whilst their siblings do not become serial killers? I don't claim to know the answer to this question, but I suspect that it's down to something more than learned behaviour.January 23, 2013 at 11:49 pm #91775
Obviously individual humans have different genetic make-ups, otherwise we'd all be clones. But I was talking about the behaviour of humans as a species, not of individual behaviour (clearly somebody prevented by gene therapy from developing some dangerous bodily defect will behave differently than they otherwise would). Nobody has yet suggested what kind of general human behaviour could conceivably be changed by genetic engineering. The Blank Slate is a Red Herring. It's not, despite Steven Pinker, what either Marx or the Cultural Anthropologists assumed..January 24, 2013 at 12:15 am #91776SocialistPunkParticipant
The answer is nature and nurture. Chicken or the egg, anyone?One of a number of sites on the subject. Ihttp://livingamongpredators.over-blog.com/article-35527842.html………………..In a paper for the International Association of Forensic Sciences in 1984, FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler and some of his colleagues listed 10 characteristics of a serial killer. Over 90% of serial killers are white males who have IQ’s in the normal to bright range. Even with this intelligence, though, they do poorly in school and often have problems keeping a job. They tend to come from highly unstable or dysfunctional families, usually abandoned by their fathers and raised by controlling mothers. They usually hate their parents. Almost every serial killer is abused as a child, whether it is sexually, emotionally, physically, or psychologically. This abuse may come from a stranger or a family member, but many serial killers try to lie about this history of abuse. Most serial killers have records of early psychiatric problems and often spent time in institutions as children. They have an intense interest in voyeurism, fetishism, and sadomasochistic porn at a very early age, and they also have a very high rate of suicide attempts. Future serial killers share three other traits in their childhoods. More than 60% of serial killers wet their beds past the age of 12. They also have a fascination with fire, which may be an early manifestation of their fondness for mass destruction. In addition, almost every serial killer starts his abuse and sadistic torture on animal victims (Fisher and Fisher, 2003). Now that the profile of a serial killer is known, one has to examine the characteristics of a psychopath. After all, serial killers are extreme psychopaths, so they will also fit this profile. Charles Montaldo, who wrote the article “Characteristics of the Psychopathic Personality,” says that a psychopath is incapable of feeling guilt, remorse, or empathy for his actions. He is generally cunning and manipulative. He knows the difference between right and wrong, but dismisses it as not applying to him. A psychopath is also incapable of feeling normal emotions like love, and often shows extreme egocentric and narcissistic behavior. In addition to Montaldo’s characteristics, it has been shown that a psychopathic individual also has intelligence and charm. He has no delusional or irrational thinking. He is also untruthful, insincere, and unreliable. He displays anti-social behavior and poor judgment, and fails to learn from experience. He comes from general poverty, his sex life is impersonal and poorly integrated, and he fails to follow any real life plan. He is also unable to control outbursts of anger or hostility, which often causes his inability to hold down a job or keep associations with family and friends. The consequences of his actions, in his mind, give him justification for even more aggressive behavior. Of course, the main downfall of the psychopath is that he always thinks that he is smarter than everyone else is. He believes that he can outwit all other people, and that he can commit any crime without ever being charged or convicted. He believes that even if he is caught that he can “talk” himself out of trouble. Is it any wonder why psychopaths often become serial killers?……………………………………………………………………………. Some research shows that there may be a genetic factor that results in a behavioral predisposition to violence (White, 2001). However, no single gene that causes aggression or violence has been isolated. Several studies have associated psychological disorders associated with aggression back through ancestry. There are more various psychopathologies in the families of young patients with borderline personality disorders than in control group families. It was also observed that a group of children with criminal and/or socially maladapted parents had abnormally elevated levels of social delinquency and aggression. The researchers that conducted these studies conclude that both genetics and environment play a role in violent behavior, “bad seeds [i.e. products of violence-predetermining genetics] blossom in bad [i.e. negligent, abusive, or violence-glamorizing] environments” (as quoted by White, 2001). After reviewing all of the research at hand, one can determine that there are certain unavoidable factors that can cause a person to be a serial killer or psychopath. Brain damage, disorders, brain chemicals, hormones, and family history certainly seem to create problems in a person. However, any intelligent person has to question why the characteristics of serial killers and psychopaths always involve their childhood horrors of abuse and neglect. If a serial killer or psychopath is born, then why do they share these experiences? If a person is born this way, then why do they all come from similar backgrounds instead of crossing all social and economical boundaries? According to Dr. Dorothy Lewis, a professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical School writes about circumstances that promote extreme violence. “They are the combination of a history of extraordinary, early ongoing abuse, some kind of brain dysfunction and psychotic systems, particularly paranoia. The more serious the neurological and psychotic symptomology, if the individual has been abused, the more violent the individual seems to be. Also, the assumption that mental illness necessarily results in violent, antisocial behavior is a false one” (as quoted by White, 2001)……………………………………………….January 24, 2013 at 9:25 am #91777AnonymousInactiveJonathan Chambers wrote:What is it that makes someone grow up to be, say, a serial killer whilst their siblings do not become serial killers?
Or, for that matter, a revolutionary whilst their siblings support the status quo?January 24, 2013 at 9:36 am #91778AnonymousInactiveALB wrote:Obviously individual humans have different genetic make-ups, otherwise we'd all be clones. But I was talking about the behaviour of humans as a species, not of individual behaviour (clearly somebody prevented by gene therapy from developing some dangerous bodily defect will behave differently than they otherwise would). Nobody has yet suggested what kind of general human behaviour could conceivably be changed by genetic engineering. The Blank Slate is a Red Herring. It's not, despite Steven Pinker, what either Marx or the Cultural Anthropologists assumed..
But surely the behaviour of a species is the sum total of the behaviour of the individuals that comprise that species?I have no difficulty in accepting that human behaviour is a combination of genetic predisposition and cultural conditioning. That much seems apparent. But if it's the case that – to continue the example of serial killers – people who behave in that way do so because they have a genetic predisposition to do so, then surely it might be possible to isolate the relevant gene and modify it? The same might be said of a number of other behavioural traits. Some people, for example, are very averse to risk-taking whilst others display a gung-ho attitude to personal danger. Is it not possible that such behaviour is due to a genetic predisposition and therefore susceptible to modification?January 24, 2013 at 10:35 am #91779AnonymousInactive
It would be interesting to know how many serial killers there were amongst the Native Americans, Eskimos, the Bushmen of South West Africa, or the aborigines of Australia. Prior to outside influence. Does anyone know?
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