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Keywords:

  • behavioral genetics;
  • evolution;
  • innate behaviors;
  • male copulation;
  • modular;
  • neuroscience;
  • steroid hormone

Abstract

Many complex behaviors are genetically hardwired. Based on previous findings on genetic control of mating and other behaviors in invertebrate and mammalian systems, I suggest that genetic control of complex behaviors is modular: first, dedicated genes specify different behavioral patterns; secondly, separable genetic networks govern distinct behavioral components. I speculate that modular genetic encoding of complex behaviors may in part reflect modularity in brain development and function.

Editor's suggested further reading in BioEssays From songs to synapses: Molecular mechanisms of birdsong memory Abstract