Nature versus Nurture


Course Objective

Students learn how individual differences in human complex behavior can
be explained by genetic variation and environmental factors.

Course Content

Human traits show considerable individual differences, which are due to
differences in the individual’s genes and/or the environment. In the
Nature vs. Nurture course the influence of genes and the environment on
human behavior will be discussed. Empirical evidence based on
experiments with human subjects will guide these discussions. During the
course many important topics from modern day society will be discussed,
such as the influence of violent gaming on juvenile behavior, the role
of parents in personality development of children, and the causes of
mental disorders.
The genetic information contained in our DNA, represents the nature
component that influences human behavior. An important aspect of the
course is to show how research on genetic information is conducted.
Students are introduced to various molecular biological techniques used
to studie the genome, such as DNA collection, isolation, and genotyping,
and (statistical) methods to link variation in DNA to variation in
behavior. The ultimate goal of this course is to understand the
‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ causes of individual differences in human
cognitive and social behavior, and to be able to critically
evaluate the nature-nurture debate.

Teaching Methods

Practicals (5%), lectures (85%), debates + workshop presenting (10%)

Method of Assessment

The final grade of Nature vs. Nurture is based on participation in
debate sessions (10%), and the DNA practical (5%), and a written exam
(85%). Of note: 55% of the written exam must be correct to obtain a
final grade. Nature vs. Nurture is successfully completed with a final
grade > 5.45.

Entry Requirements



Text book "Behavioral Genetics" 7th edition, by Plomin et al.

Scientific papers, TBA during course

Target Audience

Third year BSc students alpha and gamma topics (Sociology, Psychology,
Economics, Law, Artificial Intelligence etc.) and students from
Lifesciences (Biology, Fysics, Chemistry, Medicine, Movement Science,
Nutrition etc.) with a broad interest in neuroscience.
Students of Biomedical Sciences and Health and Life Sciences as well as
students that plan to pursue a career in Neuroscience can follow the
more specialised minor "Biomolecular/Neurosciences".

Additional Information

Guest lecturers:
Prof Bartels (VU-FGB)
Dr. Lewis (University of London, UK)
Dr. van Dongen (VU-FGB)
Prof. Dr. Konijn (VU-Social Sciences)
Prof. Dr. Schuengel (VU-FPP)
Dr. Niels van Doesum (Leiden University)

Recommended background knowledge

Broad interest in brain, behavior, psychology, genetics and neuroscience

General Information

Course Code AB_1057
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. J.C. Polderman
Examiner dr. J.C. Polderman
Teaching Staff dr. P. van Nierop
dr. J.C. Polderman

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Computer lab, Study Group, Lecture, Practical