Admittedly it’s been more than a week and it’s been weighing on my mind that this Neuroscience Boot Camp theme hasn’t been formally finished. After the last day of classes, we had a gala dinner, which was lovely, and then a few people went out (myself included) and then I was up early the next morning for a day’s travel back home, and then went straight into several days of working with a new EMBA team and facilitating an organizational culture retreat. It’s been a busy little while.
As I look back on the Neuroscience blogs that I have already posted, I’m so glad that I wrote about them in real time – I’ve already started to forget a few things here and there. So I will draw very heavily on my notes for this final post.
Our last day was primarily filled with a break-out session on special topics in Neuroscience of individuality and gender, an evaluation of the entire program and then a round-table of future resources and how we will use Neuroscience in our careers going forward.
In the break-out group, I sat with the “Genetics and Imaging” discussion group. We learned about how we know quite a bit about genes, but there is still much to learn and we certainly don’t know the functions of every single gene. There are a very few genes that we can follow all the way down to behaviour, but the association is quite low (though statistically significant). However, having this particular genetic expression (e.g. the long or short allele version) doesn’t mean that you will definitely behave in a certain way, because you may have other genes that overcome that particular behaviour, or you may have learned to do something differently.
It gets complex quite quickly, as you might expect.
The other issue is that it’s hard to get enough people in a study for statistically significant sample sizes. One journal has recommended that you need 100 people in each group (study and control) and most of the research that we read during the Boot Camp didn’t even come close. And it was still considered to be good science.
Essentially, although most scientists in this field seem to agree that genes affect behaviour, and possibly determine behaviour, any function will depend on many genes, and one gene can be involved in many functions. So beware any studies that pin a single behaviour on a single gene – it probably isn’t so simple.
In terms of future resources, here are a few that were mentioned:
PEBS news round-up from Johns Hopkins
MacArthur Foundation (for law and neuroscience)
Several periodicals including:
- New Scientist
- Trends in Cognitive Sciences
- Trends in Neurosciences
- Scientific American Mind
- Nature reviews Neuroscience
- various special annual reviews (e.g. in Neuroscience, Psychology)
Several blogs including:
Personally, I also find Science Daily to be quite good.
I do hope that you enjoyed travelling with me through my neuroscience journey. I’ll be away from this blog for much of the rest of August until after Labour Day, and then we’ll see how September goes.
I post articles of interest on my Facebook page so please join me there, and have a great rest of your summer. Stay in touch!