Genes in Behaviour and Health

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Genes in Behaviour and Health

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Behavioral Science, Biology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    The aim of this course is to teach the theory and practice of behavior genetic 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 (+ some extensions)
    3) perform a number of basic analyses with the R libraries openMx and Umx using real and simulated twin data

    The following topics are covered in the course:
    1) the biometric model which underlies twin and family designs
    2) twin and familie studies to infer the role of genetic and environmental effects on traits based on family resemblance
    3) recent developments in the field of behavior and psychiatric genetics (e.g. intelligence, alcohol use, psychopathology)
    4) the meaning of gene-environment interplay (i.e. genotype-environment correlation and genotype x environment interaction)
    5) calculation of twin correlations which give a first indication of whether a trait is heritable
    6) modeling of data from twins registered with the Netherland Twin Register using the R libraries openMx and Umx (e.g. univariate, bivariate, sex-limitation, GxE model)
    7) interpreting the results obtained in the genetic analyses

    The course consists of one lecture (3 hours) and one computer practical (3 hours) each week (week 1-7) and a written exam in the last week (week 8). Attendance of the computer practicals is compulsory.

    Examination will consist of a written exam including both open-ended and multiple choice questions.

    The student is expected to have a basic practical understand of correlation, linear regression and basic descriptive statistics, such as mean, variance, standard deviation. Some experience in the use of statistical programs like SPSS is useful. Knowledge of R is an advantage. However, the computer practicals include explanation of the R commands that will be used (using the R studio interface).

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


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