By James MacCabe; European Foundation for Psychiatry at the Maudsley
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Additional info for Beyond nature and nurture in psychiatry : genes, the environment, and their interplay
For example, if a trait shows 50% heritability, how big are the biggest QTL (quantitative trait locus) effects? Do they account for 10%, 5% or 1% of the variance? We suggest that the answer is less than 1% of the variance. Very large samples are needed to attain power to detect such small effects. 12 However, the costs for genome-wide association analyses with hundreds of thousands of DNA markers and large samples are substantial. 13 However, one microarray is needed for each individual and costs about £1000, so it is expensive to process large samples.
Two quotes from towering figures in the respective fields clearly articulate the problem. ) These quotes depict the discrepancy in stark terms. Since we assume that both approaches uncover some truths about causation this discrepancy is, to say the least, disconcerting; its sources warrant illumination. We will argue that this discrepancy arises because heritability estimates, without being invalid, systematically underestimate the importance of familywide influences on psychiatric disorders. This underestimation arises from the way in which heritability estimates treat three phenomena: interactions between genes and shared environment, environmental mediation of genetic effects, and interactions between shared and unique environmental factors.
5 kg). The trend was linear, particularly after adjusting for birth order. This is because babies born later in the family tend to be lower in cognitive ability but also heavier. 1. We then applied conditional models of change, where each cognitive score was adjusted for the previous score, to check if birth weight had an effect on cognitive change across the life course. These analyses showed that any effect of birth weight on later cognition was accounted for by its effect on previous measures of cognition.