• Question: How can researching genes that influence behaviour help us and why? If we find an understanding of genes could we solve behavioural problems more successfully?

    Asked by tomboy900hp to Darren on 23 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Darren Logan

      Darren Logan answered on 23 Mar 2012:

      We tend to think of all our behaviour as being influenced by two different things: our genes and our environment (also something called “nature and nurture”). Its because we all have different genes, and all have different experiences throughout our lives, that we are all slightly different in our behaviours.

      So when people have abnormal behaviours in things like autism or schizophrenia, its either an effect of the environment or genes (or in all likelihood, a bit of both). The challange for scientists is to untangle all the different influences and try and work out what are the important ones that help cause the disease. Once we do that we can try to understand what the problem is and try to work out how to fix them.

      I’ve chosen to study the genes – which others work on studying the environment. Hopefully one day we will understand enough about both and come up with some treatments, or even ways of stopping the disorders from happening in the first place.