Linking Genes, the Brain, and Behavior

Doctor Larry Young discusses how genes, biochemicals, and the brain interact to form complex social behaviors.

As a student I was really fascinated by the sort of differences in behavior that you see in nature. Striking differences between different species of birds and how they dance or different social behaviors. But I was also a biochemist and I was fascinated by genes and proteins and things like that. So I really was convinced that it was possible to make a link between the genes and behavior, and that’s what I’ve been working [on] throughout my career to try to understand how you can go from a gene, the starting point, to the outcome of behavior. Of course we know that behavior is controlled by the brain and the brain is controlled by genes, so the philosophy that we’ve taken in my lab is really to see how variation in genes affects neuroanatomy or brain distributions of different molecules, and then how do those differences in distributions affect behavior. So I believe that you really have to have a comprehensive view, go across multiple different levels of analysis, to really understand how our genes, the molecules that we inherit from our parents can influence our behavior as adults.

genes, brain, cognition, behavior, social, neuroanatomy, biochemistry, molecules, larry, young

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