The mass media report percentages of heritability. for various conditions. For instance autism is 90% heritable, height 80%, BMI 60%, musical aptitude 50%, depression 40%, breast cancer 30%. But these percentages are of no use to you, because they only apply to the population investigated, not in general. And they vary immensely between populations. Telling someone that their trait or illness has a specific heritability percentage is wrong.
Genetic variants and mutations can increase the susceptibility to psychiatric disorders. But the DSM does not really apply to the real world of genetically determined presentations. Hospital departments for DSM categories are outdated. Clusters of families would make better units for research into and care for severe mental disorders.
I can still remember the commotion which arose in 1990 when Dutch neuroscientist Dick Swaab published an article saying that homosexual men had an area in their hypothalamus which was twice the size of the same area in heterosexual men. Many found the idea – that homosexuality might have a biological basis – quite alarming! At the time I worked … Read More
Neurons are not associated one-on-one with a specific function. There is no such thing as a mirror neuron or the mirror system, just as there is no Jennifer Aniston neuron or neurons for a particular emotion or a particular movement. Just as a swallow in a flock is not a “flock swallow”, a neuron which is involved in seeing somebody else perform one of our actions is not a mirror neuron.
Translated by Rumia Bose During the first lockdown in the Netherlands I wrote a blog about Science in the time of Corona. The emphasis lay on explaining the business of science, and that the establishing of facts took time that we did not have. At such moments you have to trust scientists and policy makers who are in charge.We now … Read More
The memory develops after birth. A baby starts by registering how it should move. From around the age of three, a child can register events which form part of its life story, to be recalled in later life. But emotional events such as traumas are possibly registered much earlier as stray facts. These can elicit reactions, although you can’t retell them.