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Everyday Pareidolia 2

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A tendency to find patterns, also known as pareidolia, allows you to make something out of nothing for the most part. Pareidolia is a part of our everyday life. The most common example is when you take a moment out of your day and take a look in the sky. You see clouds in the sky and all of a sudden you think you see something or what you perceive to be something. A bundle of clouds suddenly look like an animal of some sort or, depending on your mood, something that makes sense in your life.

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Take a second and look around at something in the room. Stare at the object for a while, you should have made a generalization in your head on what it looks like. I took a look at a pile of clothes and the more I stared at it, the more it took shape. It took the form of a cat but to somebody else it might have just looked like a pile of clothes. Pareidolia has a lot to do with perception and how people view things a part from others. I do not think Pareidolia just happens every once in a while. If you think about it, you make something out of nothing more than you think and if you pay more attention to it then you will see. Take a look around, anything seem familiar?

Nature vs. Nuture

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In nature and nurture part, I want to know more about adoption studies. Here, what I want to know about is that are adoptee changed their traits by environments where they are in, or biological parents because of the genes inherit from.
So, I searched about it and found a research article on the internet, and it gave us some experimental examples to determine what factors have the most effect to them. The first example was that if the biological parent has shyness genetic, then the adoptee would be also shy. This strengthens the possibility of a genetic link overshadowing family environment (Daniels & Plomin, 1985). Another example is Steve Jobs who was CEO of Apple Inc. The reason that I mention him is he was adopted by the family of Paul Jobs and Clara Jobs. At this point, if Steve Jobs was be brought by his biological parent, would he have a successful life? So, I think this example gave us that environmental factor had more influence than biological factor. So, which factors do you think have more impact to adoptee between biological and environmental, or, even both factors?
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http://blogs.babble.com/famecrawler/2011/02/17/national-enquirer-steve-jobs-six-weeks-to-live/

The Paranormal Industry

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After reading about the extraordinary claims Scientific thinking principle, I realize that even this theory proven false takes people by storm. Movies like; The 4th Kind, Paranormal Activity, and Signs have made big sales for their movies and helped create the belief that they are based off true stories. Even the facts that state for example that the crop circles were made by college students doesn't push people away from the theaters. I believe that this scientific principle connects with the term confirmation bias because we are sticking to the belief that extra terrestrials exist. Give credit to the movie industry though for making a catchy trailer that catches your eye and ignites your brain.... The movie must trigger something in our sympathetic nervous system that makes us scared and start to sweat. Then the rest of the night we rely on the parasympathetic nervous system to calm us down. Google Image Result for.webarchive

Even though these extraordinary claims do not have the extraordinary evidence to go with, people are not budging on their own views. The psychologists must just be frustrated at watching the paranormal theory make money at the box office..

The nature vs. nurture has been a popular topic debated for years. Which is right or wrong? I would say neither. And I can show this to the world is through the example of me and my sister.

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Throughout the years my sister and I have fought because we were different in so many ways. I was more girl-like, and she dressed like a boy. Literally, she shopped in the boys department of stores. My automatic sense of girl-like tendencies and her love for acting like a "dude" could not be explained, because throughout our whole lives we grew up in the same home with the same parents. This difference could only be due to our genetic makeup and the differences in it that makes us unique and different from each other.

We did share one thing in common: our sarcastic sense of humor. Growing up together and living with a mother who we loved to make of together enabled us to develop the same sarcasm that we now share. It's one of the qualities that we have that other relatives do not because they did not grow up with me and my sister. This trait must have been developed through our experiences growing up while influencing each other. In other words, it was a nurture-influenced characteristic.

Both nature and nurture are right because our genes and our environments have influenced me to be who I am today and my sister to be her lovable self as well.

I am curious to know, if there are any situations where it is obvious that nature is the root cause for a behavior or if nurture is, and are there any examples out there?

Typically when we think about hypnosis, we picture a hypnotist waiving a pocket watch back and forth telling us we are getting sleepy and somehow convincing people that they are getting sleepy.
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This image is depicted in the media and the wonders that occur within the mind during hypnotism is greater than the swinging pocket watch and the hypnotist.

Our conscious mind allows us to interpret and make decisions with regard to the world around us. The subconscious mind on the other hand deals with daily functions, such as breathing, that we do not have to think about.
Hypnosis allows hypnotists to "access" the subconscious part of the mind. The reason that hypnotists tell their audience that they are getting sleepy is to instill a sense of relaxation to allow the conscious mind to shut down and the subconscious mind to begin to take over.

When the subconscious mind takes over our bodily functions, emotions, and memories are now accessible by the hypnotist. While a good portion of the reasoning behind hypnosis is due logical reasoning, there have been EEG tests that have shown an decrease in brain activity within the left hemisphere and increase in the right.
While hypnosis is largely used for amusement purposes, it can also be used to heal patients. Bad habits can be controlled through hypnosis treatment. While some of these techniques are successful, the idea of accessing memories does not prove to be valid. Memories that are recalled through hypnosis can be true memories while others can be false that have been created the subconscious.
The following video attempts to place viewers under hypnosis.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUFYJ2NppfgIt does this by relaxing the viewer and bringing their attention to the video and their breathing so that he can access the subconscious and tell the viewer what to think and feel. He also alludes to accessing memories.

The question that I pose is how do we tell whether hypnosis actually cures bad habits, such as smoking, or if this can be explained by the placebo effect? Does the fact that patients now associate smoking with bad taste in their mouth ("induced by hypnosis") result directly from the hypnotist accessing the subconscious mind or does the fact that the patient is now aware that he/she should feel this way affect their overall outlook on cigarettes? What tests could be done to tell?

The section on neural plasticity in Chapter 3 and the subsequent sections on the functions of different areas of the brain have captured my imagination more than any other part of the book in the past few weeks. At the same time we went through these sections in lecture, I have been witnessing it firsthand. A close friend of mine suffered a hemorrhagic stroke while in surgery for the replacement of a shunt. The doctors are unsure of why it happened, and were not aware that it had happened until about 5 hours after the surgery. They used similar knowledge about the brain structures we learned about, as well as a CT scan to figure out what had happened.


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After surgery, my friend showed a few red flags for a stroke: she had little to no use of her right side, and her speech and short term memory were severely impaired. The doctors were aware something had gone wrong almost immediately after she woke up, and she was rushed to get a CT, where they discovered what had happened. If they didn't have the use of a brain-imaging system, they could have easily determined the location of the stroke; it would've been on the left side of her brain, which controls the right side's movement, it would be centralized around the motor cortex, which controls body movement in general, and it would have also effected other parts of her frontal lobe, which accounts for the loss in short term memory. The recovery process for her has been equally fascinating; in two short weeks she has gone from not being able to use her right side whatsoever, to regaining almost full use (she is still in recovery, and improving every day). For me, her recovery prompts many questions about processes involved in neural plasticity, especially regarding the role of stem cells.

The Adrenaline Effect 2

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I was just reading about the adrenal glands, which are the areas in our kidneys that produce adrenaline and cortisol, and I have found claims of people performing extraordinary feats of strength do to the presence of adrenaline. Adrenaline increases strength and focus in the body and it's release typically comes to us when we are in an emergency. One example of this is in a video I came across in which this guy rolls a helicopter of his friend who is stuck underneath.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbjJBZIONUc
As you can see when you watch the video, it makes sense that the release of adrenaline can be very important to us. For instance, it allows us to make quick and focused decisions when we are under a lot of stress.
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I have always wondered how big an effect adrenaline has on one who is experiencing it. The most recent memory in which there was plenty of adrenaline released in my body is when I got into a fight with my brother about three months ago. Adrenaline certainly adds to your strength. But I still don't know if I can believe some of those amazing stories, so does anyone know how much adrenaline increases strength?

In religious studies, the feeling of finding yourself in a divine presence is called experiencing the numen. Monte Python would explain this feeling as one's apprehension of the vastness of the universe and our small place within it:

Humanities and British humor aside, what does neuroscience say about the numen? Studies confirm several observations:

1) There is no single god spot in the brain.

2) The feeling of the numen can be induced through manipulation of one's brain ... (skip to 1:20).

3) The induction of the numen through manipulation shows only the locus of the feeling, not level of religiosity.

Given this locus of numenous perception, however, would it not be more parsimonious to attribute such a feeling in your life to a triggering of this locus rather than actual contact with the divine?

I was playing on an Xbox 360 game with some friends from my dorm and I noticed a strange phenomenon. I was with two people who were new to the game we were playing and one of them caught on right away and the other had a very difficult time figuring it out.This made me wonder why this could be.
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I found an article online that showed that researchers could determine video game aptitude by measuring activity in the basil ganglia. Someone with a lot of activity in this region of their brain would be able to pick up video games faster than others. This could be an explanation to why one of my friends could barely figure out the controls while the other learned quickly.
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I was playing on an Xbox 360 game with some friends from my dorm and I noticed a strange phenomenon. I was with two people who were new to the game we were playing and one of them caught on right away and the other had a very difficult time figuring it out.This made me wonder why this could be.
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I found an article online that showed that researchers could determine video game aptitude by measuring activity in the basil ganglia. Someone with a lot of activity in this region of their brain would be able to pick up video games faster than others. This could be an explanation to why one of my friends could barely figure out the controls while the other learned quickly.
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Nature vs. Nurture is a psychological debate pertaining to how someone's life is developed, relating to genetics, or their environment. Many people believe that there has to be one definitive answer to the question, "Which of the two accounts for how we are once we are grown up?" However, there are so many examples supporting both sides, that I think nature and nurture can play a part in our development. tumblr_lexhbqedxY1qg7abxo1_400.png

The nurture theory believes that a child's development has nothing to do with their genetics, and is entirely based on how they are raised. An example of the Nurture theory is when John Watson raised an orphan who was afraid of loud noise, and banged a hammer every time he saw a rat. [http://parenting.families.com/blog/the-nurture-theory#] Soon enough, the orphan was terrified every time that he saw a rat. The nature theory believes that a child's development is entirely based on our genetics. An example of the nature theory is Identical Twin studies. Often times, twins separated at birth end up leading incredibly similar lives, and sometimes even getting each other the same present upon reuniting. Which side of the debate are you on?

The most common sleep disorder that impacts people everywhere is Insomnia. Nearly all of us at one time or another have had trouble falling asleep or remaining asleep. However when it becomes reoccurring this is known as Insomnia. At first glance Insomnia, like most disorders is a personal problem that seems to only impact people at the individual level. However this is false. When people have reoccurring troubles with sleep this has great impacts on their physical health which negatively effects their functionality at work.

A recent research study conducted by the Harvard Medical School and the University of Michigan found staggering results. Researchers conducted a questionnaire on the sleeping habits of over 7000 working adults. Their findings were as followed.

The average U.S. worker with insomnia causes his/her employer 11.3 days and about $2,280 in lost productivity.
Insomnia costs the U.S. workforce $63 billion in total.
23.2 of employees suffer from insomnia, according to the findings, and the problem is more common among women than men and less common among those over 65. Tired employees equals less productively which is a loss for both businesses and individual employees. LESS work MORE sleep is the key!!

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I came across the movie called "Sucker Punch". It was actually a very odd movie, but there was one part that caught my attention. At the end of the movie they performed a prefrontal lobotomy on one of the characters. I was wondering what they were doing and my friend who knows so much about psychology explained to me what it was. It was actually very interesting and I never really thought that people would even think of doing such a thing. I thought it wasn't the right way to do it because what I thought was that they basically killed her because to me its call brain damage. Until now I still wouldn't say it isn't the right way to try "helping" a person relieve their pain and suffering.


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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmXG0dDrNQc&feature=related

Prefrontal lobotomy is a surgical procedure in which the fibers that connect the thalamus to the frontal lobes of the brain are removed. Lobotomy procedures were used for those who had mental disorders, obsessive-compulsive states, and schizophrenia. Prefrontal lobotomy was also used to control pain and reduce the emotional tension associated with hallucinations. Doctors in the Soviet Union stated that it was "contrary to the principles of humanity" and it made "an insane person into an idiot" so it was banned in some areas.

So now, would you agree that it is not the way to perform such procedure? I'm sure everyone would say "better to have a bottle in front than a frontal lobotomy," would they?

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Enter the useful innocent. That's Peter King, another well-meaning and hopelessly befuddled Republican who can't help assuming good faith on the other side of the aisle. His song lately: due process is no longer useful to society, and we should therefore dispose of it by legislating that persons included in the government's so-called "Terrorist Watch List" be stripped of civil rights. In his column for ScrippsNews, Cliff May posits that the proposed measures will save the American people from terroristic violence like the attack in Mumbai in 2008, and that such reasonable regulation in India would have prevented those events from occurring. Additionally, he expertly anticipates the public outcry concerning human rights and due process, and pretends to calm it, writing: "if someone gets on a terrorist watch list by mistake, his right to bear arms will only be delayed, not denied."
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Both May and the politicians whose reasoning he champions are clearly affected by several cognitive biases, too many to deal with entirely in this post. I'll list those most debilitating to their conclusions, which include: illusory correlation; and embarrassing entrapment by the just-world fallacy. For one thing, the official investigation revealed that the weapons used by the foreign insurgents in the Mumbai attack were illegally smuggled--being unavailable for purchase in India--and defeats May's supposition of a correlation between a civilian firearms market and the likelihood of domestic terrorism committed by American citizens; forget about causality. Furthermore, official statistics report that between 2006 and 2010 firearm sales in the United States increased by 30% (and that's only among licensed retailers), while during the same period firearm-affected homicides declined by 14%, casting doubt upon the suggestion that access to firearms endangers public health, and in fact demonstrating a negative relationship between firearm-affected homicides and gun sales. May and King have made the common antiempirical blunder of leaning on a perceived philosophical alignment of the universe (superstition) to validate their reasoning.

Can dogs really tell us something about nature vs. nurture? The researchers on the Nova documentary believe they can, so they pay particular attention to two studies. One study looked the ability of nurture to affect the behavior of wolves. For this study the scientists took wolf cubs home and raised them as we would dogs, but instead of the wolves growing up to be our loyal best friends, they still exhibited aggressive behavior. It got so bad that the wolves had to be removed from the homes and brought to a nearby zoo.
The second study observed the genetics behind behavior. In this study foxes were breed to be tame. To do this the scientists breed foxes, and then after, based observing the foxes, they separated them into two categories, tame and aggressive. The scientists then breed the tame foxes with each other. Eventually, the all the foxes that were born to the tame group were tame and the same was true of the aggressive group, except they were aggressive. Along with tameness, the fox's phenotypes changed. Their tales became shorter, and their coat became lighter. Since it is very difficult for people to perform nature and nurture studies on humans these animal studies provide great insights into the debate.

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The nature-nurture concept is important since it tells us how effective environment changes can alter the development of human behaviors and skills. This topic is of great interest to me because I have a genetically identical twin sister myself. We had lived together for 19 years since we were born. Yet, there are still many things different between us. See below a photo between my twin sister and me:blog jpg

One can easily identify me from this picture if he/she knows that I am very active and talkative and my sister is generally quiet. Also, my curiosity is very strong, whereas my sister prefers knowing the results rather than the process. Of course, we share a lot of common things. We can easily pick the same clothes to wear, the same gifts for friends, and even the same guy to fall in love with. We share the same genes and had shared the same environment for many years. Yes, we are similar and we are different! Should that be the results for nature or nurture?

Is your brain full?

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Neural plasticity is the nervous system's ability to change. These changes can be genetic or as result of our education, upbringing or because of injury or illness. Our nervous system is continuously evolving; the brain of a child develops exponentially until they reach adolescence. Following illness or injury the brain adapts. As adults this plasticity decreases but we're still capable of creating stronger connections making our neurons more efficient.

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is an assessment tool used to identify your learning and thinking preferences. The idea is that a person's brain is divided into four quadrants, each specializing in certain skills, with some areas stronger than others where we develop preferences. The HBDI is the foundation of a million dollar business where they identify your preferences and then use them to help individuals make career choices, help businesses improve communication among employees, help parents connect with their children & help people learn to use their "whole brain". Are they capitalizing on the plasticity of our brains or have they built their company on pseudoscience?
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For hundreds of years, the debate between nature and nurture has embedded itself into our everyday lives. Numerous experts on opposite ends of the debate vigorously support their views with hard hitting evidence and explanations. The strong cases for both sides forces us all to think about how our traits and qualities have come into existence. Is it because of nature or nurture?

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Perhaps it is a bit of both.

Graph A: Nature

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Graph B: Nurture
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Graph A shows a strong correlation between the IQ's of identical twins reared together as well as identical twins reared apart, while the unrelated persons reared together did not have a strong correlation of IQ's. This strongly supports the argument that personality traits, intelligence in this case, are genetically influenced. However, Graph B shows an increase in IQ's since WW2 that experimenter William Flynn claims is due to 21 environmental factors. Factors such as parental ambition, book reading, criminality, and a plethora of others prove that nurture as well plays a big role in creating our identities.

So it is important to keep in mind that neither nature nor nurture is the sole determinate of our behavioral traits, rather it is the tightly woven web they weave together that creates the complexities of our being.

The All-Important Amygdala

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The amygdala is such an intriguing part of the brain; how can something so small have such a large impact on the daily lives of human beings. The amygdala is used for fear response, and without it, human beings behave fearlessly and unknowingly put themselves in dangerous situations. I think it is safe to say that humans are fortunate to possess this important brain structure...

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On a less precarious note, another function of the amygdala, as stated in the second article, is guiding humans' response to animals. Animals play such an important role in our everyday lives and many people feel they have close connections with their pets, and are often considered "animal lovers". In our culture today, a dog is often referred to as "man's best friend" and there are even websites devoted to pictures of cute and cuddly animals for users to view. I have never quite thought about humans' particular connection with animals and it makes me wonder; if one would call themselves an "animal lover", could this be seen in increased activity of the amygdala?

Adrenaline and the Hulk

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When I was reading the section about adrenaline in chapter 3, I was really intrigued thinking about the fantastic feats people are supposedly able to perform because of adrenaline in a moment of crisis. This got me thinking about superheroes. In particular, the Hulk. In one of the Hulk's origin stories, he starts out as a regular scientist, David Banner, and one day he and his family are in a car accident. David manages to escape the crash unharmed, but his wife and child are trapped under the car. Being a scientist, he's heard of the amazing feats people are sometimes able to perform during an adrenaline rush, and he rushes to their aid and tries to pull the car off them. Sadly, he is unable to help and his family is killed. He is so upset with himself for not being able to save them, that he becomes obsessed with trying to recreate the kind of super-strength that adrenaline rushes sometimes produce. He tests his experiments on himself, and accidentally makes it so that any time he gets even mildly startled or excited, he gets an adrenaline rush so powerful that he can't control himself, thus becoming the Hulk.
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Of course, something like this would never actually be possible, because while an adrenaline rush may allow a person to do amazing things, it does so merely by making their body work in the most efficient way possible. It wouldn't cause a person's muscles to increase in size, and I don't see any reason for it to turn a person green. Nevertheless, it's interesting to think about this story with the actual science in mind.

Nature vs. Nuture

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The Nature vs. Nurture debate is a very interesting topic. On one hand there is a belief that our behaviors are mostly guided by our genetic makeup (Nature side). On the other hand, there is a belief that our behaviors are mostly guided by our upbringing and developmental environment. Today however, most agree that both play a pivotal role in our behavior.

Interestingly enough, I feel as if sometimes that there is a third factor that is actually tied into this debate, and that is the notion of free will. Because I am somewhat crazy, ever since I heard of the debate, I have attempted to analyze myself and see where do my traits come from. Its relatively easy to see how my traits come from my upbringing and environment, so really what does not fit with nurture, I throw it in the Nature(genetic) bin. However i think the third factor, free will, has a relatively influential role too.And if anyone does not believe in free will, watch this video:
I think that even despite of genetics and nurture, some traits are actually chosen. What do you guys think, Is it possible that we can somehow choose our own characteristics, and is this choice(whether conscious or otherwise) based on nature and/or nurture?

All Things Considered 'Identical Strangers' Explore Nature vs. Nurture


The debate over the role of nature vs. nurture has raged between scientists of all fields for close to a century. It was with Gregory Mendel's earliest work in 1866 that first changed the debate, introducing new ideas about what would become genetics. With Mendel's observation of certain "factors," later known as genes, being passed on from parent to offspring in his studies on the heredity of pea plants. With this work the debate over how much of our development should be attributed to our genetics and how much should be attributed to our external environment really began. NPR did a story in 2007 on a set of identical twins that were separated at birth, reuniting 35 years later when they finally found out they had a twin. These twins had been separated at birth as part of an identical twins study in the 1960s and 70s, something that would be looked at as highly unethical now. twinstogether_200.jpgWith the developments in ethical standards in scientific studies, psychology experiments especially, it is now not allowed to separate siblings of any kind. This study, performed by Peter Neubauer, a child psychiatrist, was in his words, "Beautiful. It's practically the perfect study." In many ways it was just that, a study where two individuals with identical genetic code would be raised with different environment factors influencing them would allow us to learn so much about our genetic code. But because of the new ethical developments in the field studies like this can no longer happen and the results of this study are to be held confidential until 2066. Neubauer's lack of remorse, demonstrated by his responses and he still has not apologized, shows just how powerful he thinks an experiment like this can be in developing knowledge around genetics. The important question has to be raised, just how far should scientists be allowed to go? There will always be those looking to advance the field and sometimes the best way to do that is by doing experiments that are unquestionably unethical, this is why it is important to have these codes in place, even though it may slow our research efforts.

Here is a slide show documenting the story of identical twins separated at birth, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein finally reunited at age 35.
http://www.npr.org/programs/totn/features/2007/10/twins/gallery/index.html

complicated nurture-nature

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After reading articles of nature or nurture,I become interested about this complicated issue. This issue is about scientists had done research that show both nature genes from parents and environmental factor could effect a person's characteristic and heritability . The three techniques of doing research on this issue are family study, twin study and adoption study.Which one is more dominant?

http://www.animationsource.org/lion_king/en/articles/Nala_s_Father_A_Speculative_Article/108892.html&id_film=13

The most impressive example in my mind is cartoon Lion King. It is amazing that Mufasa is so strong and kind while the other guy is illlook, evil that he murder his brother.Due to what I have learn in this chapter,What cause the big difference between this twins is probably gene or nuture environment.They may have experienced different issue during their childhood thus form different personality. In this example,Environmental factor affect a lot more than the Genes do.But, are there any techniques to figure out how to control these two variables? Will one day we be able to select the best way for children to grow up and help them form a appropriate personality?Can we find a Balance between them?

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