Genes in Behaviour and Health


Course Objective

The aim of this course is to teach the theory and practice of behavior
genetics analyses based on the classical twin design so that the student
will be able to
1) critically read and understand twin studies
2) explain how behavior genetics questions are answered using the
classical twin design
3) perform a number of twin analyses with the R library openMx using
real and simulated twin data
4) report results of the twin analyses in a scientific format

Course Content

People differ in their personality, behaviour, cognition, psychological
health and lifestyle. These individual differences in psychological
traits may be the consequence of genetic differences or differences in
their environment and are the focus of the field of behaviour genetics.
This course will focus on the methods for twin and family studies that
can infer the role of genetic and environmental effects on human traits
based on the resemblance between family members. We will discuss the
biometric model that underlies twin and family studies and the different
research questions that can be answered. A selection of literature on
recent developments in behavioural genetics studies on different
psychological topics will be presented and discussed in class. In the
practicals we will prepare twin data for analysis in OpenMx using SPSS
and R. OpenMx is an R package for structural equation modelling that is
designed for the flexible analysis of genetically informative data. We
will analyse data collected in twins registered with the Netherlands
Twin Register. We will run, amongst others, a univariate, bivariate,
sex-limitation and GXE model. We will pay attention to how we can
interpret the results of our genetic analyses obtained with OpenMx.

Teaching Methods

The course consists of one lecture (2 hours) and one computer practical
(4 hours) each week. Attendance of the computer practicals is

Method of Assessment

Examination will consist of a written report of the analyses performed
by the student on a provided dataset in the form of a scientific
publication (methods and results section).

Entry Requirements

This course is for students that are enrolled in the BA3 psychology
track Genes, Brain and Behaviour. The student is expected to have a
basic practical understanding of correlation and linear regression and
to have (at least some) experience in R.


A selection of scientific articles and book chapters to be announced via

General Information

Course Code P_BGBEHE
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Fac. of Behavioural and Movement Science
Course Coordinator dr. L.E.J. de Zeeuw
Examiner dr. L.E.J. de Zeeuw
Teaching Staff dr. L.E.J. de Zeeuw

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Lecture, Practical
Target audiences

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