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Beyond VersusThe Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture$
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James Tabery

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027373

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027373.001.0001

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Its Rise, Its Fall, Its Rise? Interaction in the Twenty-First Century

Its Rise, Its Fall, Its Rise? Interaction in the Twenty-First Century

(p.73) 4 Its Rise, Its Fall, Its Rise? Interaction in the Twenty-First Century
Beyond Versus

James Tabery

The MIT Press

In 2003, Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi published a groundbreaking study examining how the serotonin transporter gene and stressful life events interact to contribute to the risk of developing depression. When dozens of research teams around the globe attempted to replicate that original result, a peculiar thing emerged—some of the studies supported the original finding, but many came back negative. Faced with this dilemma, scientists performed meta-analyses of the replications; however, the meta-analyses only created their own puzzle—one came back supportive of the original finding, while several came back in conflict with it. Scientists studying the nature and nurture of depression were thus unable to agree whether the original study held up to the scrutiny or fell into disrepute, and unable to agree whether research on gene-environment interaction or research on genome wide association studies was the way forward for human genetics. This episode can be understood as the most recent instantiation of a long-standing dispute about gene-environment interaction. This chapter displays how contemporary scientists debating the nature and nurture of depression have repeated arguments for and against interaction that can be traced back through nearly a century of scientific debate.

Keywords:   Avshalom Caspi, Depression, Gene-Environment Interaction, Genome Wide Association Study, Meta-analysis, Terrie Moffitt, Serotonin Transporter Gene, Stressful Life Events

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