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Quantitative genetics 

Quantitative genetics
Chapter:
Quantitative genetics
Author(s):

Anita Thapar

and Peter McGuffin

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199696758.003.0028
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date: 25 August 2019

In this chapter the authors consider the theoretical basis of inheritance and possible sources of phenotypic variation and familial resemblance. The investigation of the genetic basis of psychiatric disorders first requires us to examine to what extent genes and environment contribute to a given disorder or trait. Secondly, we need to know how genes and environmental influences exert their risk effects and finally we have to investigate the genetic basis of disorders at a molecular level. Traditional methods in psychiatric genetics research include family, twin, and adoption studies. Family studies enable us to examine to what extent a disorder or trait aggregates in families. Familiality of a disorder can of course by explained by shared environmental influences as well as by shared genes. Twin and adoption studies allow us to disentangle the effects of genes and shared environment. The statistical methods used in quantitative genetics may seem complex, the principles are straightforward. Here the authors consider the methods of analyses that are most commonly used for examining the contribution of genetic and environmental factors, to psychiatric disorders and traits. Finally, they discuss gene mapping, and molecular genetic studies investigating gene–environment interplay and intermediate phenotypes.

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