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Regular version of the site

Advanced Behavioural Genetics

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
2 year, 1, 2 module


Сысоева Ольга Владимировна

Course Syllabus


“Behavioral genetics” will promote an understanding of the current state of affairs with regards to behavioural genetics. Basic principles as well as recent developments will be explored in relation to a broad range of phenotypes. Historical and ethical issues will be discussed. The structure and function of DNA will be studied in the context of investigations into individual variation in psychological traits. Students will be introduced to behavioural genomic analysis, such as investigating gene-environment interaction, testing educational interventions, and testing the generalist genes hypotheses - using information on measured genes and measured environments. The course also covers ethical and legal considerations of genetic research. Additionally, an important part of scientific research is the dissemination of ideas and the open discussion of empirical findings. Research into the interplay between genes, psychology, education, and justice system - is relatively new and easily misunderstood. Thus, the sharing of scientific information and ideas with experts, the scientific community in general and the wider public is critical. This module facilitates cross-cultural exchange, research dissemination, and public engagement activities. "Neurogenetics” is a basic course dealing with genetic underpinnings of development and function of central nervous system designed for the Master Program "Cognitive sciences and technologies: from neuron to cognition". The major genetic mechanisms, working on molecular and behavioral levels, will be discussed. The focus of the course will be the gene-cell-brain-behavior approach. As an example some neurophysiological endophenotypes will be introduced. The progress and perspectives of applying of genetic knowledge to understanding the neurological and psychiatric conditions will be also covered. The recent progress in neurogenetics provides new direction for the study of cognitive processes.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Know history of neurogenetics, basic concepts
  • Apply the multilevel approach to human cognition (gene-cell-brain-behavior)
  • Learn methods used in neurogenetics
  • Understand neurophysiological endophenotypes - how to define the promising ones
  • Know neurogenetic disorders, its classification and examples
  • Understand main problems and perspective in neurogenetics
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • discuss the roots of neurogenetics and evolution of its concepts
  • describe basic concepts and definitions of neurogenetics
  • understand the relation of neurogenetics with other scientific fields
  • give examples of neurogenetics methods
  • decide which method of neurogenetics in appropriate to answer particular question
  • be able to describe the principle of work for some of the methods
  • critically evaluate the studies, related to neurogenetics
  • connect some brain process to genes
  • describe some neurophysiological endophenotypes
  • describe how you can evaluate the "goodness" or potential of particular endophenotype for particular disorder\psychological process
  • classify the neurogenetic diseases
  • describe genetic mechanisms underlying major neurogenetic diseases
  • describe the polygenic disorders and how neurogenetics can help to shed the light onto their mechanisms
  • Describe the techniques used in Quantitative genetic research
  • Describe the techniques used in Molecular genetic research
  • Communicate effectively knowledge and understanding of the main concepts in behavioural genetics both orally and in written form
  • Discuss ethical, legal and societal implications of behavioural genetic research applied to medicine, education, economics and other fields
  • Critically evaluate the state of affairs in the current quest for molecular underpinnings of individual variation in psychological and neurophysiological traits.
  • Critically assess the logic of whole genome association approaches
  • Discuss associations between genetic and environmental influences (gene-environment correlations, interactions, epigenetic regulation, etc.)
  • Summarize and draw conclusions from quantitative and molecular genetic reports.
  • Critically discuss the strengths and limitations of linkage and association methods
  • Critically evaluate Quantitative genetic techniques
  • Describe the theoretical foundations of current molecular genetic research
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • History of neurogenetics
    History of neurogenetics, relation of neurogenetics to other scientific disciplines
  • Methods of neurogenetics
    Introduction to the current methods used in neurogenetics
  • Neurogenetic disorders
    Neurogenetic disorders, their classifications and examples
  • Neurophysiological endophenotype
    Introduction to the concept of neurophysiological endophenotype, providing example of neurophysiological endophenotype, dicsussing the methods to evaluate the promise of the particualr endophenotype to promote undersdanding the disorder
  • Introduction to Behavioural Genetics
  • Molecular genetics
    (DNA, associations studies, polygenic prediction)
  • Gene-environment interplay
    (ge correlations, interactions, epigenetic mediation)
  • Multivariate Questions in quantitative genetics. (e.g. Co-morbidity, development, heterogeneity). Behavioural genetic research into cognitive/learning abilities and disabilities. Behavioural genetic research into psychopathology.
  • Ethical, Legal and Societal implications of genetic research.
    Processing of genetic data, protection of genetic privacy; Discrimination on genetic information – insurance, employment, education, consumer rights; Ethical implication of use of genetic knowledge and of access to genetic science benefits.
  • Evaluating behavioural genetics methods and findings.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking In class presentation (3-5 min)
  • non-blocking The multiple-choice written test (20 min)
  • non-blocking homework: create multi-choice question, related to the course
  • non-blocking class work
  • non-blocking Revision test (behavioral genetics)
  • non-blocking Written exam
    The examples of retaking tasks are stored in Department of Psychology.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    Gfinal = 0.6 * (0.3 * Revision Test + 0.7 *Written test (Exam)) + 0.4 * (0.3 * Gpresentation + 0.2 * Gclass + 0.5 * Gtest - multiple choice written test)


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Bienvenu, T., & Chelly, J. (2006). Molecular genetics of Rett syndrome: when DNA methylation goes unrecognized. Nature Reviews Genetics, 7(6), 415–426. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrg1878
  • Bogdan, R., Hyde, L. W., & Hariri, A. R. (2013). A neurogenetics approach to understanding individual differences in brain, behavior, and risk for psychopathology. Molecular Psychiatry, 18(3), 288–299. https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2012.35
  • Bogdan, R., Salmeron, B. J., Carey, C. E., Agrawal, A., Calhoun, V. D., Garavan, H., … Goldman, D. (2017). Imaging Genetics and Genomics in Psychiatry: A Critical Review of Progress and Potential. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.1D6A97A
  • Boomsma, D., Anokhin, A., & de Geus, E. (1997). Genetics of Electrophysiology: Linking Genes, Brain, and Behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 6(4), 106–110. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.ep11514440
  • Caspi, A., Sugden, K., Moffitt, T. E., Taylor, A., Craig, I. W., Harrington, H., … Poulton, R. (2003). Influence of Life Stress on Depression: Moderation by a Polymorphism in the 5-HTT Gene. Science, 301(5631), 386–389. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1083968
  • Gul Dolen, & Mustafa Sahin. (2016). Essential Pathways and Circuits of Autism Pathogenesis. Web server without geographic relation, Web server without geographic relation (org): Frontiers Media SA. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.BA0CA2A4
  • IACONO, W. G., MALONE, S. M., VAIDYANATHAN, U., & VRIEZE, S. I. (2014). Genome-wide scans of genetic variants for psychophysiological endophenotypes: A methodological overview. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.9798ECAF
  • Konermann, S., Brigham, M. D., Trevino, A., Hsu, P. D., Heidenreich, M., Cong, L., … Zhang, F. (2013). Optical Control of Mammalian Endogenous Transcription and Epigenetic States. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.47D087D2
  • Kovas, Y., Malykh, S. B., & Gaysina, D. (2016). Behavioural Genetics for Education. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1204755
  • McCarroll, S. A., Feng, G., & Hyman, S. E. (2014). Genome-scale neurogenetics: methodology and meaning. Nature Neuroscience, 17(6), 756–763. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3716
  • McCarthy, M. I., Abecasis, G. R., Cardon, L. R., Goldstein, D. B., Little, J., Ioannidis, J. P. A., & Hirschhorn, J. N. (2008). Genome-wide association studies for complex traits: consensus, uncertainty and challenges. Nature Reviews Genetics, 9(5), 356–369. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrg2344
  • Moffitt, T. E., & Caspi, A. (2014). Bias in a protocol for a meta-analysis of 5-HTTLPR, stress, and depression. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1), 219–225. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-14-179
  • Uher, R., Caspi, A., Houts, R., Sugden, K., Williams, B., Poulton, R., & Moffitt, T. E. (2011). Serotonin transporter gene moderates childhood maltreatment’s effects on persistent but not single-episode depression: Replications and implications for resolving inconsistent results. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.648F7FDA

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Snustad, D. P., & Simmons, M. J. (2016). Principles of Genetics (Vol. Seventh edition). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1639411
  • Sysoeva, O. V., Constantino, J. N., & Anokhin, A. P. (2018). Event-related potential (ERP) correlates of face processing in verbal children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their first-degree relatives: a family study. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.D682D3E0