Course ObjectiveStudents learn how individual differences in human complex behavior can
be explained by genetic variation and environmental factors.
Course ContentHuman 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
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 MethodsPracticals (5%), lectures (85%), debates + workshop presenting (10%)
Method of AssessmentThe 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.
LiteratureText book "Behavioral Genetics" 7th edition, by Plomin et al.
Scientific papers, TBA during course
Target AudienceThird 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 InformationGuest 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 knowledgeBroad interest in brain, behavior, psychology, genetics and neuroscience
|Language of Tuition||English|
|Faculty||Faculty of Science|
|Course Coordinator||dr. J.C. Polderman|
|Examiner||dr. J.C. Polderman|
dr. P. van Nierop
dr. J.C. Polderman
You need to register for this course yourself
Last-minute registration is available for this course.
|Teaching Methods||Computer lab, Study Group, Lecture, Practical|