Genetic, Perinatal and Biological Factors in Behavior Regulation: Behaviour Genetics



Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

Goal of the course is to provide an insight into the inherited components of human behaviour. At the same time, it is also important to help students develop a critical attitude in the interpretation of scientific findings in behavioural genetics and possible application of these results in psychology. Main topics of the course will include an overview of Mendelian autosomal diseases and characteristics, interpretation of twin-study outcomes, and thorough analyses of a few current results from the modern psychogenetic literature. The clear understanding of some basic terms in genetics and molecular biology is of vital importance in this interdisciplinary field, as well as acquiring a clear understanding of the methodological aspects (such as the problem of population stratification in sampling or correcting the level of significance when multiple testing is applied). The course will also cover effects of environmental factors and, most importantly the possible role of gene-environment interaction.

Fulfillment criteria for the course include the thorough literature review of an endophenotype of the students’ interest, presentation and discussion of these articles in class. Moreover, students will be asked to develop a hypothetical research plan for a behaviour genetic study connected to their chosen topic, presentation and discussion of their plans.

  • D Hamer & L Sirota Beware the chopsticks gene. Population stratification is a potential source of error in psychiatric genetics. Molecular Psychiatry (2000) 5, 11–13.
  • Plomin, R, Defries, JC, Mcclearn, GE, & Mcguffin, P (2001) Behavioral Genetics, 4th Edition. Worth Publishers, NY.
  • Szekely, A., Balota, D. A., Duchek, J. M., Nemoda, Z., Vereczkei, A., Sasvari-Szekely, M. (2011). Genetic factors of reaction time performance: DRD4 7-repeat allele associated with slower responses. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 10(2), 129–136.
  • Szekely, A., Kovacs-Nagy, R., Bányai, É. I., Gősi-Greguss, A. C., Varga, K., Halmai, Z., Ronai, Z., & Sasvari-Szekely, M. (2010). Association between hypnotizability and the catechol-Omethyltransferase (COMT) polymorphism. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 58(3), 301-315.
  • Zuckermann, Marvin (1992) "What is a Basic Factor and Which Factors Are Basic? Turtles All the Way Down," Personality and Individual Differences 13 (1992), pp. 675-681.