Posted by: unlikelygrad | August 5, 2009

An actual post about science

OK, so I’m not a genetic biologist or a psychologist or any of that stuff. But who cares? If it’s hot science, I’ll read it.

I loved this article from the July issue of Scientific American:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-patchwork-mind

Summary:

  • When passing on DNA to their offspring, mothers silence certain genes, and fathers silence others. These imprinted genes usually result in a balanced, healthy brain, but when the process goes awry, neurological disorders can result.
  • Imprinting errors are responsible for rare disorders such as Angelman and Prader-Willi syndromes, and some scientists are beginning to think imprinting might be implicated in more common illnesses such as autism and schizophrenia.
  • Even typical brains are the result of asymmetric contributions from Mom and Dad. Higher cognitive function seems to be disproportionately controlled by Mom’s genes, whereas the drive to eat and mate is influenced by Dad’s.

I’ve been fascinated by genetics for a long time. This might have been inevitable: I come from a large family (large enough that I consider having four a “medium-sized” family), and was therefore impressed at an early age by the incredible variety you can get amongst the offspring of just two people.

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