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. Students will understand the
underpinnings of twin and family design, based on the biometrical model.
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 articles based
on twin and family designs.

Course Content

The MA course Behaviour Genetics provides an introduction to
(human) behavioral genetic research methods based on family and twin
designs. These designs allow us to infer the contributions of genetic
and environmental factors to phenotypic variance, based on the
resemblance of famliy members.
The course comprises the following
1) Basic population genetic concepts and statistical concepts
2) The biometrical / statistical model relating genotype to phenotype,
and its role in genetic association studies.
3) Application of the model in family and twin designs to infer the
contributions of unmeasured
genotypic differences and environmental factors to phenotypic variance
4) Introduction to genetic covariance structure modeling in twin and
family designs
5) Using OpenMx and umx (R libraries) to analyse continuous univariate
and multivariate twin and
family data
6). Extensions of the twin design: modeling of moderation (GxE
interaction) in the twin
design, twin and parents, related designs, such as the discordant twin
design and the children of twins design

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 written exam with open questions and a computer

Entry Requirements

Prior to this course, the students are expected to have completed
successfully an intermediate statistical course. Basic prior statistical
knowledge concerns linear regression analysis,
measures of association (covariance and correlation), and
statistical inference and testing. Prior knowledge of the R computing
environment is strongly recommended, as R is used in the practicals.


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

Target Audience

This is an obligatory course for students in the research master Genes
in Behavior and Health.

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: