Behavioral Genetics and the heritability of Alzheimer's Disease

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Behavioral Genetics is a subconcept in the nature and nurture section of the Lilienfeld text. Scientists look at the roles of genes and environment in behavior to investigate how influential nature and nurture are on psychological traits. The idea of behavioral genetic designs is important because many different types exist and they are used to estimate heritability of traits and diseases. The heritability of traits and especially the heritability of diseases is not only extremely intriguing to me, but has a great deal of importance in my life. My maternal grandmother, is the mother of 13 children, and the grandmother of over 50 grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is also a victim of Alzheimer's Disease. At family gatherings a hot topic is whether or not my grandma should be put into a nursing home. Everyone agrees it is going to become necessary, the only problem is dear old grandma would hate us all if we did that to her. My mother always says to me "Cecely, when I get Alzheimer's put me in a nursing home as soon as things start to get bad," and I always tell her that it is not inevitable that she will develop the disease. My mom obviously has some misconceptions about heritability, she is probably under the impression that heritability tells us whether a trait can be changed and that heritability is a fixed number. Not saying I know for sure that she will not develop Alzheimer's disease, but it would definitely be interesting to examine the heritability of the trait in my family.

When I think about what would happen if scientists were to examine the trait for Alzheimer's disease in my family, I wonder what type of study would be used, and how environmental factors play into something that is definitely genetic. I've heard about a lot of research about things that could prevent or promote the onset of the disease, but how exactly are those things measured and incorporated into behavioral genetic designs?

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This page contains a single entry by hoytx085 published on October 2, 2011 6:33 PM.

Nature vs Nurture - Twin Study was the previous entry in this blog.

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