Tuesday, August 28, 2012

23 Plus 23 Equals What?

It equals who you are! People sometimes wonder the reason that siblings sometimes are so dramatically different from each other, not only in looks but also in attitudes and behaviors. Originally it was thought (as postulated by Gregor Mendel, sometimes known as the father of modern genetics), that each biological parent provided contributions to a person's genetic makeup in equal ways. Now it turns out that imprinted genes (they carry an extra molecule) from biological parents do not necessarily exert the same level of influence on the developing fetus. For example, it appears that a mother's genes may have more control over higher congnitive functions while a father's genes may have more of an impact on a desire to eat and to mate. Mother's genes tend to silence other specific genes; father's genes tend to silence different specific genes. Fortunately, most people get a fairly healthy brain out of this complex complexity. But sometimes the process doesn't work as well as would be desirable. There is some indication that imprinting errors might be implicated in a variety of conditions including schizophrenia and autism. Fascinating!

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