How to write an essay on Genes, Neurotransmitters, & Emotions (Solved)

How to write an essay on Genes, Neurotransmitters, & Emotions (Solved)

Describe how genes interact with environmental factors to affect behavior

Most human traits and diseases are influenced by the interaction of genes with the environment. Gene-environment interactions occur when genetic factors affect an individual’s sensitivity to environmental risk factors (Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), 2020). The result is increased susceptibility to outcomes like diseases and behavior change. Gene-environment interaction means that a given genotype may lead to different phenotypes depending on environmental exposures. Decades of behavioral genetic research have demonstrated the relationship between genetically influenced factors and behavior change. For example, gene à environment correlations arise because of exposure to certain risks (CHE, 2020). Peer group deviance and adolescent problem behavior are an example of gene-environment interaction whereby peer influence accelerates behavior change than genetic predisposition alone.

The role of gene-environment interaction is important for understanding the nature versus nurture debate. For instance, it is observed that the genetic liability to antisocial behavior is only associated with the presence of adverse adoptive environments. An example is a relationship between the MAO-A gene and the environmental risk of antisocial behavior. Research conducted found a relationship between child abuse and various indices of aggression among individuals with high MAO-A activity genotype (CHE, 2020). This indicates that although no child should be subjected to abuse in childhood, there are populations who carry a higher risk of adverse behavioral outcomes if exposed to harsh growing environments.

What major neurotransmitters are associated with mood?

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the body involved in the transmission of signals from nerve cells to target cells. The brain needs neurotransmitter activity to regulate major functions like the sleep cycle, concentration, anxiety, and depression (Shao & Zhu, 2020). Mood disorder is a broad term that refers to a group of depressive and bipolar disorders caused by neurotransmitter imbalance in the brain. The major neurotransmitters associated with mood and the mechanism of action of antidepressants are dopamine and serotonin (Shao & Zhu, 2020). Dopamine is both an excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter whose levels impact mood regulation. Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is involved in mood regulation and behavior change.

How are they involved in abnormal behavior?

Dopamine is a hormone that is usually released by the brain during pleasurable activities. However, dopamine imbalance caused by various factors can result in low energy levels, poor concentration, and lack of motivation observed in individuals with depression. In particular, decreased dopamine activity causes depression (Shao & Zhu, 2020). Serotonin is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for mood disorders. This hormone is mainly associated with feelings of happiness, focus, and calm. Decreased levels of serotonin cause depression characterized by classic symptoms of inability to feel pleasure and lack of motivation (Shao & Zhu, 2020). The use of drugs like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that boost serotonin levels in the brain improves symptoms of depression.

What role do emotions play in psychopathology?

Emotions are central to the development and maintenance of psychopathology, especially in early life. The dysregulated experience and emotional expression are implicated in mental health conditions associated with depression and anxiety or externalizing problems like antisocial behavior. Researchers have observed that emotions represent adaptations shaped by natural selection to enable the response to recurrent situations and behavior (Gangemi et al., 2021). For example, negative affectivity which is a global measure of negative emotionality is associated with sadness and anger predicts psychopathology like major depression and externalizing problems like aggression.


Collaborative on Health and the Environment. (2020). Gene-environment interactions & epigenetics.

Gangemi, A., Dahò, M., & Mancini, F. (2021). Emotional reasoning and psychopathology. Brain Sciences11(4), 471.

Shao, X., & Zhu, G. (2020). Associations among monoamine neurotransmitter pathways, personality traits, and major depressive disorder. Frontiers in Psychiatry11, 381.

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