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Genetics for Psychologists

A Half-Day Tutorial On The Genetics of Brain Function
MBI Genetics For Psychologists


At no other time in the history of the discipline has it been so important that students have a good working knowledge of neurobiology and genetics, yet many students struggle with both...



This is the simple truth. Any 21st century psychology student must have a working knowledge of how genes are involved in behaviour. It has become abundantly clear that genes are not only involved in many psychological and cognitive functions, but that they interact with the environment to influence the way we behaviour. And as we elucidate the ways in which genes work, we begin to understand how they involved in many neurological and psychiatric disorders. However, genetics is a big and complex field and psychology students - in particular those with no biological background - can often struggle with terms and mechanisms.


Enter a half-day tutorial on genetics for psychologists. In this tutorial, we not only introduce students to the way in which genes work in a comprehensible way but, like all MBI tutorials, we stretch and extend students beyond A-level pushing into degree-level material at appropriate points. Thus, the tutorial will deal with the nature of DNA and genes, but we will develop students' knowledge, filling in the gaps. How do genes influence brain development? Why do genes influence our behaviour and susceptibility to certain disorders? Do we really have "a gene for this and a gene for that" or can we justifiably say, " actually, I think you'll find it's a little more complex than that..."


Which Students Will Benefit From The Tutorial?


This tutorial is designed primarily for very able A-level psychology students but will also be useful to:


  • ·any A-level biology students with an interest in the nature of genetics and the relationship of genes to brain development and function.

  • ·those students considering a university degree and/or career in the following subjects:

    Psychology           Philosophy        Medicine
    Neuroscience       Life Sciences    Genetics


The material presented during this tutorial will complement and develop upon topics and issues encountered whilst studying A-level Psychology.

Aims of The Tutorial

There are three main aims to this tutorial:


  • to provide the student with an overview of the structure and nature of DNA, together with an understanding of elementary genetic principles such as  gene expression and protein coding.

  • to consider the role of genes in brain development and cognitive function, to explore exactly why changes to genes can lead to diseases and disorders and to explain how we know that particular genes are linked to certain disorders.

  • to consider modern epigenetic theories of how genes and environment interact to influence typical and atypical behaviour, with applications to attachment and bonding. 

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