Genes, Pain & Diet During Pregnancy

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Source: Science Magazine

Date: 03/11/2010


Summary: Laura Schenkman and Robert Frederisk discuss two very different genetic research questions: "Why does one person feel more pain than another?" and "How does a mother's diet influence the expression of genes in a fetus?"

Program Context: The topic of pain-response may be of interest to social and behavioral researchers because it involves physiologic, cognitive, and behavioral parameters. This podcast discusses one investigation that associates single nucleotide polymorphisms with the experience of pain.

  • Single nucleotide polymorphisms are described in the learning module on Variation.
  • Linking Genes with Environment provides an example of research on depression - another trait with biological, cognitive, and social/behavioral contributors.

The topic of maternal diet and fetal development touches upon the concept of epigenetics, factors which influence the expression of genes without changing the underlying DNA sequence.


  • The concept of epigenetics is described in the learning module on Gene-Environment Interaction.
  • The genetics of eating behaviors is introduced in Initiating Collaboration, an example of one social scientist's experiences integrating genetics into the study of obesity.


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