Autism Genetics Research:
Previous research suggests that brain function differences may largely be determined by genetics. These differences in brain function may influence factors such as susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders. The differences may also influence intellectual interests such as which college major to pursue. A study attempted to determine the correlation between intellectual interests and neuropsychiatric disorders in the context of familial linkage. The findings were published in an article titled Familial Linkage between Neuropsychiatric Disorders and Intellectual Interests.
The researchers surveyed 1313 students from an incoming freshman class at Princeton University. Of the 1313 students surveyed, 1077 students completed the survey. The survey focused on incidence of neuropsychiatric disorders within the family and also on prospective major.
The study found that students interested in engineering, math, and science were significantly more likely to have a sibling with autism. On the other hand, students interested in pursuing a major in the humanities were significantly more likely to report that a member of their family has major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or issues with substance abuse.
The authors state that their research suggests that familial linkage may influence both the pursuit of specific intellectual interests and the predisposition to certain neuropsychiatric disorders. However, they are also quick to point out that environmental factors may also play a role in intellectual interests and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Campbell, Benjamin C., and Samuel S.-H. Wang. “Familial Linkage between Neuropsychiatric Disorders and Intellectual Interests.” Ed. Andrew H. Kemp. PLoS ONE 7.1 (2012): e30405. Web. 30 Jan. 2012.
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