The intersection of behavioral genetics and political science: introduction to the special issue.

Political Science, Microbiology and Biochemistry, The Pennsylvania State University, USA.
Twin Research and Human Genetics (Impact Factor: 1.64). 02/2012; 15(1):1-5. DOI: 10.1375/twin.15.1.1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The collection of papers in this special edition of Twin Research and Human Genetics represents a major land-mark at the intersection of behavioral genetics and political science. This issue is the fruit of 20 political scientists attending the Behavioral Genetics Association Methods Workshop in Boulder and a hands-on training practicum at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, and includes results from the first wave of political science twin surveys.

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Late-onset depression (LOD) is a frequent mood disorder among elderly. Previous studies have proved that LOD is associated with cerebral silent lesions especially white matter lesions (WML) and yielded the "vascular depression" hypothesis to explain the pathogenesis of LOD. However, there were relatively few studies about the association between silent brain infarctions (SBIs), microbleeds (MBs) and the prevalence of LOD. In this study we sought to evaluate the presence, accumulation and locations of SBIs and MBs, and explore the possible association between them and LOD. Methods: 65 patients of LOD diagnosed according to DSM-IV and 270 subjects of control group were enrolled and scanned by MRI to analyze the presence, numbers and locations of SBIs and MBs. Clinical and radiological characteristics were compared between LOD patients and control group. Logistic regression models were constructed to identify the independent risk factors for LOD. Results: LOD patients had higher prevalence and numbers of both SBIs and MBs. SBIs and MBs in the left hemisphere, SBIs in basal ganglia and lobar MBs were all independent risk factors for LOD. Conclusion: The presence of both SBIs and MBs were associated with a higher rate LOD. Lesions in some specific locations might be critical for the presence of LOD.
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    ABSTRACT: In this article, we respond to Shultziner's critique that argues that identical twins are more alike not because of genetic similarity, but because they select into more similar environments and respond to stimuli in comparable ways, and that these effects bias twin model estimates to such an extent that they are invalid. The essay further argues that the theory and methods that undergird twin models, as well as the empirical studies which rely upon them, are unaware of these potential biases. We correct this and other misunderstandings in the essay and find that gene-environment (GE) interplay is a well-articulated concept in behavior genetics and political science, operationalized as gene-environment correlation and gene-environment interaction. Both are incorporated into interpretations of the classical twin design (CTD) and estimated in numerous empirical studies through extensions of the CTD. We then conduct simulations to quantify the influence of GE interplay on estimates from the CTD. Due to the criticism's mischaracterization of the CTD and GE interplay, combined with the absence of any empirical evidence to counter what is presented in the extant literature and this article, we conclude that the critique does not enhance our understanding of the processes that drive political traits, genetic or otherwise.
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the influence of conduct disorder (CD) on substance use initiation. Community adolescents without CD (n = 1,165, mean baseline age = 14.6 years), with CD (n = 194, mean baseline age = 15.3 years), and youth with CD recruited from treatment (n = 268, mean baseline age = 15.7 years) were prospectively followed and re-interviewed during young adulthood (mean ages at follow-up respectively: 20, 20.8, and 24). Young adult retrospective reports of age of substance initiation for 10 substance classes were analyzed using Cox regression analyses. Hazard ratios of initiation for the CD cohorts (community without CD as the reference) at ages 15, 18, and 21 were calculated, adjusting for baseline age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Among community subjects, CD was associated with elevated adjusted hazards for initiation of all substances, with comparatively greater hazard ratios of initiating illicit substances at age 15 years. By age 18, the adjusted hazard ratios remained significant except for alcohol. At age 21, the adjusted hazard ratios were significant only for cocaine, amphetamines, inhalants, and club drugs. A substantial portion of community subjects without CD never initiated illicit substance use. Clinical youth with CD demonstrated similar patterns, with comparatively larger adjusted hazard ratios. CD confers increased risk for substance use initiation across all substance classes at age 15 years, with greater relative risk for illicit substances compared to licit substances. This effect continues until age 18 years, with the weakest effect for alcohol. It further diminishes for other substances by age 21, However, the likelihood of initiating cocaine, amphetamines, inhalants and club drug use among those who have not initiated yet continues to be highly elevated by age 21.
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