Behavioural Genetics


Course Objective

Following this course, students will understand the basic population
genetics of the biometrical model, statistical implementation of the
biometrical model, and understand the relationship between biometrical
model parameters and regression parameters as obtained in a GWAS or
candidate gene study. Students will understand the theoretical
underpinnings of twin and family design, based on the biometrical model,
and understand the relationship between the results obtained in genetic
association studies and those obtained in family and twin design (where
no genotypes are measured). Students will be able to conduct genetic
covariance stucture modeling of twin and family data using the R
libraries OpenMx and umx, with a full understanding of the results and
associated statistical testing of model parameters. Following this
course, students will be able to understand and evaluate behavioral
genetic articles.

Course Content

The course MA Behaviour Genetics provides an introduction to current
(human) behavioral genetic research methods. The course consists of two
parts. Part 1.1) Basic population genetic concepts and statistical
concepts; 1.2) The biometrical model relating genotype to phenotype, and
the statistical implementation of this model. 1.3) Applications of this
model in the study of genetic association, with measured genotypes and
summaries of measures genotypes (candidate gene study, genome-wide
association study, use of polygenic scores); 1.4) Applications of the
model in family and twin designs to infer the effects of unmeasured
genotypes based on allele sharing, including the assumptions involved in
this inference. Part 2.1) Introduction to genetic covariance structure
modeling in twin and family designs; 2.2) Using OpenMx and umx (R
libraries) to analyse continuous univariate and multivariate twin and
family data; 2.3) Introduction to modeling of discrete in the twin
design; 2.4). Modeling of moderation (GxE interaction) in the twin

Teaching Methods

The course comprises 7 3-hour lectures and 6 3-hour computer praticals.
Attendance of the computer practicals is mandatory. Attendance of the
lectures is strongly recommended.

Method of Assessment

Examination consists of two written exams, one after lecture 4 and one
after lecture 7. The exams consist of open and multiple choice
questions. In addition, the computer practical includes quizzes which
have to be answered during the practical, and the answers have to be
returned on paper at the end of each practical. The exams includes
questions concerning the material presented in the lectures and the
practicals, and the scientific articles discussed during the lectures.

Entry Requirements

Prior to this course, the students are expected to have completed
successfully an intermediate statistical course. Prior statistical
knowledge including the regression model, descriptive statistics, and
measures of association (such as covariance and correlation), and
statistical inference and testing. Prior knowledge of the R computing
environment is strongly recommended.


The literature includes
1) practical workbook used in the practicals;
2) lectures notes based on the lectures; 3) lecture ppts with slide
3) scientific articles concerning behavior genetic studies of
psychological and health related phenotypes.

Additional Information

This is an obligatory course for students in the research master Genes
in Brain and Health.
It is an elective course for the students from the research masters
Clinical and Developmental psychopathology, Cognitive Neuropsychology,
and Social Psychology.

General Information

Course Code P_MBEHGEN
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Fac. of Behavioural and Movement Science
Course Coordinator prof. dr. C.V. Dolan
Examiner prof. dr. C.V. Dolan
Teaching Staff prof. dr. C.V. Dolan

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Lecture, Practical
Target audiences

This course is also available as: