Historical Background

Plato, in The Republic, speculated that behavioral and personality characteristics might be heritable, but only in more recent times have such phenotypes become amenable to genetic analysis. In the 19th century, Francis Galton (1822-1911) started the scientific study of human behavioral phenotypes and, in the second half of the 20th century, the field of behavior genetics was born with the publication of John Fuller and Robert Thompson's classic book Behavior Genetics in 1960. By 1960, it was quite clear that behavior is influenced by genetic factors, as shown by a wealth of studies on inbred strains and crosses between them, by the generation of artificially selected lines, and by the results of twin studies. However, with the exception of some neurological mutations with rather severe phenotypical effects, the genes remained elusive. Questions concerning where the genes were located on the chromosomes, what proteins they encoded, and where in the nervous system they were expressed remained a mystery. All this changed in the 1970s when a new technology, recombinant DNA, was born that allowed scientists to study the molecular mechanisms underlying neural function. At the same time, a few scientists, such as Benson Ginsburg and Dick and Cynthia Wimer in the United States and Hans van Abeelen in Europe, began to integrate behavioral, neurobiological, and genetic aspects of their research, and this integration has continued in both animal and human studies. This led to the emergence of the new and budding field of behavioral neurogenetics, which is rapidly coming of age with its own specialist society (the International

Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society; http:// www.ibngs.org).

The new genetic technologies that have become available in recent years have created very high expectations for progress in the near future. Although it is doubtful that single gene analyses will help us to elucidate complex cognitive functions, the manifold advantages offered by modern behavioral-neu-rogenetic analysis should help us unravel the cellular basis of brain-behavior relationships. This creates great potential for the development of new therapeutic tools.

Understanding And Treating Autism

Understanding And Treating Autism

Whenever a doctor informs the parents that their child is suffering with Autism, the first & foremost question that is thrown over him is - How did it happen? How did my child get this disease? Well, there is no definite answer to what are the exact causes of Autism.

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