Our Genes, Our Choices
How genotype and gene interactions affect behavior
- David Goldman, Laboratory of Neurogenetics, NIAAA, Rockville MD
Author David Goldman uses judicial, political, medical, and ethical examples to illustrate that this lifelong process is guided by individual genotype, molecular and physiologic principles, as well as by randomness and environmental exposures, a combination of factors that we choose and do not choose.
Written in an authoritative yet accessible style, the book includes practical descriptions of the function of DNA, discusses the scientific and historical bases of genethics, and introduces topics of epigenetics and the predictive power of behavioral genetics.
AudienceStudents and researchers involved in human genetics, medical genetics, behavioral genetics and neurogenetics.
- Published: May 2012
- Imprint: ACADEMIC PRESS
- ISBN: 978-0-12-396952-1
Goldman’s is pure gold in this endearing and informative blend of personal insights and polished professionalism that reflects on the basic nature of human genetics and individuality. Goldman literally lives and breaths his research. His passion for the topic comes through with good humor while providing a didactic romp through the complexities of both our genetics and our brains. Entertaining and informative for the expert and hobbiest alike, this is a must read for those who enjoy contemplating unanswerable questions such as what makes the human brain so unique and how behavior and cognition are controlled, or not as the case may be. At a time when anti-intellectualism is at its height, Goldman demonstrates a clear command of his material nicely interwoven with every man stories and clever literary references. There is truly something for everyone here. Makes the case that understanding ourselves is our greatest hope of surviving ourselves, (i.e. we cannot evolve fast enough to meet the rate of exponential challenge growth) Despite it being self-evidently obvious to most of us, Goldman is willing to articulate that testosterone is actualy a contributing factor to behavioral expression, particularly those that involve aberrant impulsivity such as aggression, murder, suicide. But he also does not loose sight of the importance of context, environment, experience, culture, pointing out that the predictive value of each is slight, but nonetheless there is genuine predictive value. If we have a modest predictor of cancer risk its on the front page of the New York Times, but people are much more squeamish about predictors of human behavior and Goldman helps reduce the aversion with his balanced, nuanced and yet accessible presentation. He further exploits his refined analyses to reexamine the panorama of mental health disorders and weave into their description and interpretation a discussion of how impulse control and disorders thereof are a common component of multiple diseases. This serves two purposes, it reminds us that there is a thin line between normal and so-called aberrant thinking and behavior, and that many mental health disorders have common underlying phenotypes or are in fact many diseases with one name. Additional gems include Goldmans discussion of his own experiences in the legal system and why the issue of genetic control of behavior (read criminality) is a real and tangible one that can change the course of lives today, as opposed to some imagined science fiction future. He reminds us of eugenics and the harm done in the past, but alerts us to the current risks, and benefits, including genetic studies and what they do and do not buy us. A valuable review of the current technology used to study your genes and use them for good or evil, assures the reader is fully informed and no portion of the science is left under the mantle of "magic" or too complicated for the simple lay person to understand. He leaves no subject untouched, tackling gun control, shoe fetishes and sex addiction alike, even epigenetics, the newest of the new in the study of genetic control of behavior are subjects for which Goldman is well versed and nicely capable of conveying to the reader.--Margaret McCarthy Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Physiology, Psychiatry and Program in Neuroscience, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
Chapter 2: The Jinn in the genome
Chapter 3: 2B or not 2B?
Chapter 4: Stephen Mobley and his X-chromosome
Chapter 5: Dial Multifactorial for Murder: The intersection of genes and culture
Chapter 6: Distorted capacity: The measure of the impaired will
Chapter 7: Distorted capacity: Neuropsychiatric diseases and the impaired will
Chapter 8: Inheritance of Behavior and Genes “For” Behavior Gene Wars
Chapter 9: The scientific and historic bases of genethics: Who watches the geneticists and by what principles?
Chapter 10: The world is double helical DNA, RNA and proteins, in a few easy pieces
Chapter 11: The stochastic brain: From DNA blueprint to behavior
Chapter 12: Reintroducing genes and behavior
Chapter 13: Warriors and Worriers
Chapter 14: How many genes does it take to make a behavior?
Chapter 15: The genesis and genetics of sexual behavior
Chapter 16: Gene x environment interaction
Chapter 17: The epigenetic revolution: Finding the imprint of the environment on the genome
Chapter 18: DNA on Trial
Chapter 19: Parents and children: Neurogenetic determinism and Neurogenetic individuality
Chapter 20: Summing up genetic predictors of behavior