Behaviour genetics (BIO/2/1)

  1. Course title: Behavioural Genetics




  Course code Semester Requirement
Semester/ weekly Credit Language


BIO/2/1 Spring exam 2 4 English


  1. Responsible person and department
Name: Position: Department, Institute:
Dr. Enikő Kubinyi,


senior research fellow Department of Ethology, ELTE


  1. Lecturer(s)
Name: Position: Department, Institute:
Dr. Enikő Kubinyi senior research fellow Department of Ethology, ELTE


  1. Prior requirements and knowledge

No prior knowledge is expected


  1. Obligatory/Recommended studies


  1. Detailed topics of the course
  2. Introduction to behavioural genetics

Historical perspective, Mendel’s laws of heredity, exceptions to Mendel’s law, complex traits, multiple-gene inheritance, the biological basis (DNA, chromosomes).

  1. Animal models in behavioural genetics

Quantitative genetic experiments, identifying genes and gene functions, creating mutations.

  1. Nature, nurture, and human behaviour

Adoption and twin designs, heritability, estimating genetic and environmental influences (shared and non-shared).

  1. The interplay between genes and environment

Genotype-environment correlation and interaction, methods of detecting.

  1. Identifying genes

Mutations, polymorphisms, single-gene and complex disorders, candidate gene method, GWAS.

  1. Gene expression and epigenetics

Transcriptome, RNA microarrays, sequence-based methods, proteome.

  1. The genetic background of complex behavioural traits: cognitive abilities

General and specific cognitive abilities, school achievement, neurocognitive measures.

  1. Cognitive disabilities

Phenylketonuria, Fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, Down syndrome, sex chromosome abnormalities, small chromosomal deletions, reading and mathematical disabilities.

  1. Personality and personality disorders

Schizotypal personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder and criminal behavior.

  1. Developmental and adult psychopathology

Schizophrenia (twin studies, twin studies), mood and anxiety disorders, co-occurrence of disorders, autism, attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder, disruptive behaviour disorders.

  1. Substance use disorders

Alcohol and nicotine dependence, other drugs.

  1. Health psychology

Obesity, subjective well-being and health, genetic counselling.

  1. Aging

Cognitive aging, general and specific cognitive abilities, dementia, longevity.

  1. The future of behavioural genetics

Quantitative genetics, molecular genetics.


  1. Mode of teaching

After a short introduction about the topic, students provide presentations based on published papers.


  1. Requirements

This is a 4 days course in the exam period. Students are required to read chapters of the recommended books or other materials, give two oral presentations, and take a written test. Instead of the two oral presentations writing a popular science article is an alternative option.


  1. Consultation possibilities:

1 hour weekly


  1. Notes, books, and recommended literature

Knopik, V. S., Neiderhiser, J., DeFries, J. C., Plomin, R. (2016). Behavioral genetics. (7th ed.) New York: Worth Publishers