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Heredity and Hormones

Heredity and Hormones Alisha White Beh/225 June 27, 2013

Abstract What defines us as human beings? Why do we act the way we do? Who we are a mixture of the environment in which we live, but more so from our hormones and heredity. In this paper I will discuss the endocrine system in which our hormones come from, genetics, behavior genetics, and evolutionary psychology.

The Endocrine System The endocrine system is a collection of multiple glands that produce hormones which regulate the body’s metabolism, growth and sexual development. These hormones are released into the bloodstream and then travel to the different organs and tissues in your body. Starting from the top of the body the first gland in the endocrine system is the pineal gland. This gland releases melatonin, which helps to keep the sleep-wake cycle regulated. The next gland is the pituitary gland this gland produces a number of different hormones that are involved with growth. The parathyroid helps stabilize calcium and phosphate which influences excitability. The thyroid gland produces thyroxin which maintains the metabolic rate in the body. The pancreas produces insulin and glucagon to help control blood sugar levels. The adrenal glands (adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla) produce different hormones that the body responds to when threatened physically and stressors. The ovaries produce estrogen in females and the testes produce testosterone in men that influence characteristics. Genetics also play a big role in who we become as we grow older. Traits are passed on from parent to offspring from generation after generation. Genes are what gives us our hereditary characteristics in which some are passed from our mothers and some from our fathers at the time of conception. There are different traits that can be attributed to heredity. The genes that are passed on to us can be anything from freckles on the face to be predisposed to having schizophrenia. Behavior genetics is the study to identify what genes may contribute to one’s talents, intelligence and other genetic predispositions. This study is still uncertain with human beings as to whether or not a person becomes an athlete because their parent was or they are an artist because their parent was. They have a bigger change if being predisposed from a closer relative than a distant relative. Evolutionary psychology is the study of what genes or what traits we have in common. This is more of a social or natural science study and examines things like; memory and language and whether these traits are evolved.