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My favourite subject during college and masters’ was genetics. Topics such as gene-environment interactions that shape an individual fascinated me. They still do – the article today looks at how small changes in the genetic alphabet leads to major behavioural or biological changes. Small changes in the gene responsible for making histamine (which has a role in allergies), small changes in FoxP2 – that has helped give humans language, or mutations in SHANK3 or SLC6A4 can have unwanted consequences. Mostly, it is the study of abnormalities that has given us the knowledge of functions of many genes. As the author says, how much of our genetic makeup determines our behaviour and biology is an important question.

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/tiny-genetic-changes-massive-behavioral-effects-87761/

Another favourite topic of mine was (and is) animal behaviour which includes human behaviour. So much so, that I went to request the head of our department to offer a new speciality on ethology in my second year of masters. Of course, it wasn’t practical to start a special topic for a single student. In any case, I can definitely read about how humans behave in their habitat – our world!

Gambling is an age-old business. While gambling is wide-spread and there are chapters in game theory dedicated to this topic, in gambling the house is the winner – in this case, it is the casino. You will be surprised at the lengths a casino owner will go to make his gambling den (the casino) seductive – by careful design of his den and new-age machines. I had read about the case of a woman who was addicted to gambling. Even after losing all her money and inherited money on gambling, when she sued the casinos, the judges weren’t convinced that it was the casino’s fault. Scary! Anyway, read on and discover what goes behind the design of the machines to keep the gamer hooked for hours and empty his purses on the machine/s.

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/7/5976927/slot-machines-casinos-addiction-by-design

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