Course Descriptions

01:447:460 Genetics of Compulsive Behavior





Genetics 01:447:380 or Genetic Analysis I 01:447:384 and General Biology Lab 01:119:117 or 01:119:102

Course Description

Compulsive urge can be channeled toward productive endeavors such as a strong drive to succeed in competitions, schooling, and career. On the other hand, improper handling of compulsive urge may lead to problematic behaviors such as alcoholism, drug use, gambling, and other undesirable behaviors. There are also conditions that are medically defined as disorders, with certain types of compulsive behaviors part of the diagnostic symptoms, such as OCD and ADD/ADHD. There is evidence that genetics contribute to compulsive behavior in humans, and research in animal models has begun to uncover the molecular factors that underlie the genetic basis of compulsive behavior.

Primary research literature will be used as a main material for this course, selected to cover a range of the study of compulsive behavior genetics. The course will involve extensive reading and discussion, and will examine scientific literature relating to the genetics of compulsive behavior. Each cycle will begin with assigned primary literature on the genetic research of a specific compulsive behavior, with student presentations and class discussion. Each student will then write an essay, summarizing the salient features of the research paper, and present his/her own analysis and critique. A peer-review component is also incorporated, with randomized roster assignment to peer-review classmates' writings, conducted in a two-way anonymous fashion (neither the peer reviewers nor the reviewees will know each other's names), to promote objective peer reviewing. Typically six to eight rounds of literature and essay writing will be conducted during the course, covering scientific research on major types of compulsive behavior. The focus will be on developing skills in critical thinking and effective writing, as well as critical evaluation of written materials.

Course Syllabus 

Spring 2022 Syllabus


WCd – Student is able to communicate effectively in modes appropriate to a discipline or area of inquiry; evaluate and critically assess sources and use the conventions of attribution and citation correctly; and analyze and synthesize information and ideas from multiple sources to generate new insights.

Departmental Learning Goals:

Course URL


Course Satisfies Learning Goals

1. Knowledge specific goals: Know the terms, concepts and theories in genetics.          

2. Integrate the material from multiple courses and research. That is, to think holistically and to see the whole as well as the parts. 

3. Develop critical thinking skills by studying primary research literature. 

4. Develop scientific writing skills:

 •Communicate complex ideas effectively, in standard written English, to a general audience; 

 •Communicate effectively in modes appropriate to genetics research: in-class presentation, questions and  answers  with course instructor and fellow students in the course;

 •Evaluate and critically assess sources and use the conventions of attribution and citation correctly: written summary of assigned reading;

 •Analyze and synthesize information and ideas from multiple sources to generate new insights: written critiques based on assigned reading, with an emphasis on generating one's own synthesis of the study topics.

 Exams, Assignments, and Grading Policy

• Research literature will be assigned for reading and critique writing;

• During the class, most time will be devoted to discussion of assigned reading and evaluation of student's writing;

 • 20% class discussion participation,

 • 80% written literature summary, peer review critique, and on-time submission of writing assignments.

Course Materials

Primary research literature and journal articles assigned by the instructor

Course Closed?

There is no wait list for this course, and Department of Genetics no longer issues Special Permission Numbers. Please continue to monitor Web-Reg for openings. 



Dr. Lei Yu
Office: Smithers Hall, Room 107
Phone: 848-445-0794
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

** All information is subject to change at the discretion of the course coordinator.