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Nurturing the genius of genes: The new frontier of education, therapy, and understanding of the bra

Abstract: This article introduces the reader to an idea that emerges from evolutionary psychology and behavior genetics. For the most part, genes are gifts of nature to solve problems. Most true genetic diseases, regulated by the classic processes that Mendel observed, are extremely rare. Most of the behaviors that cause us grief or joy with some form of genetic contribution happen far more often. If such behaviors were "defects" harming our reproductive success, Mother Nature would have quickly made short work of those genes in a handful of generations. The fact that many of the genes related to these behaviors and subtle changes in the brain seem to have been recent changes in the past few thousand years implies that these changes are in some sense nature's gifts. This paper is about reframing and explaining advances in science in the past 10 years or so, parallel to the brain imaging studies. The molecular studies, explored in the context of evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics, provide a new model for human development, enhancing our understanding of more traditional views of human phylogeny and ontogeny. The same molecular studies, when framed in the context of twin, adoption and longitudinal studies, provide new insights for parenting, schools, community and therapy.          

Relevance to PAXIS’ Work: This paper challenged the conventional wisdom that the genetic influence on mental, emotional, and behavioral disoders is some indication of a major biological error, specially given that so many children, youth and adults have such dificulties. The paper shows that many of the so-called genetic disorders are actually positive adaptive strategies in evolution, and some are adaptive when the social or natural environment changes in certain ways. In other cases, the so-called disorders are a result of what is called, “evolutionary mis-match.”  An example cited involves certain dopamine variations that are associated with human migration, and confer higher rates of risk taking and reward seeking plus even higher intelligence. In modern society, these are classified is disordered traits. That is an error because Mother Nature positively selects those genes.  If the environment is appropriately nurturing, those genes are highly advantageous.