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The DNA revolution and psychology

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact John Mollon.

The century-long journey from behavioural genetics (e.g., twin studies) to behavioural genomics (DNA studies) has transformed genetic research in the behavioural sciences. I will focus on one discovery with far-reaching implications for psychopathology. For the domains of personality and cognitive abilities, domains whose hierarchical structures were built psychometrically from the ground up, their phenotypic structure reflects their genetic architecture. In contrast, for psychopathology, the genetic architecture looks very different from our current symptom-based diagnoses, whose origins are more historical than empirical. First, there is a great deal of genetic overlap between disorders. A striking example is that most genes that affect schizophrenia also affect bipolar disorder. Second, there are no genetically distinct disorders, just continuous dimensions of genetic risk. I hope to evoke a discussion of the scientific and clinical implications of these findings.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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