Study Materials

The notes below show the subtopics that are covered within each lecture.

General Overview

  • Why study cognitive and behavioral genetics?
  • Some major techniques and discoveries of behavioral genetics.
  • Nature and nurture.
  • Social and ethical concomitants of cognitive and behavioral genetics: eugenics, social Darwisinism, race, sex.

Remedial Genetics

  • Multigene traits, QTL.

Gene Structure / Function

  • Gene exon/intron structure. Allelic variation.
  • Basal transcription. Cis and trans regulatory elements.
  • mRNA structure. The genetic code. Coding/non coding regions. Translational control.
  • Point mutations, small and large-scale deletions, chromosomal abnormalities.

Single Gene Mutations

  • How can a single gene mutation lead to a complex psychiatric phenotype?
  • Animal models 1: the GABAa receptor and enhanced anxiety and bias for threat cues.
  • Animal models 2: proline deyhdrogenase and sensorimotor gating (relevance to attention deficits in multiple psychiatric disorders).


  • Mendelian genetics in the setting of neuropsychiatry.
  • How can molecular genetics be used to find the gene responsible for a human disorder inherited in a simple Mendelian pattern and to provide an explanation for the patterns of pathology which are observed: Huntington's Disease, a single gene autosomal dominant mutation.

Environmental and Genetic Context

  • Genomic environment.
  • Cellular and local environment.
  • Body + brain, hormones, (estrogen).
  • External environment. Activity-dependent wiring and gene expression.

Williams Syndrome

  • Genetic, neurobiological, cognitive, linguistic, and social dimensions of Williams Syndrome.

Genetics of Language

  • Heritability of normal variation and pathologies of language.
  • Specific Language Impairment.
  • Dyslexia.
  • Developmental language delay.
  • Stuttering.

Challenge of Defining Phenotype

  • Schizophrenia, manic depressive illness, alcoholism.
  • Diagnostic issues.