Evolution of behavioural, personality and cognitive diversity in humans

We investigate how natural selection has shaped human psychological diversity by analysing sequence variation of genes encoding components of the dopaminergic and serotonergic pathways and the oxytocin and vasopressin receptors. We analyse the impact of adaptive sequence variation on gene expression patterns in the cortex and on cognitive, behavioural and neuroanatomical traits and diagnostic measures of mental illness in large population-based studies. Individual psychological differences have a major impact on health throughout life. Our research on the biological basis of these differences and how they have evolved through the interplay of genes and culture will improve our ability to accommodate diversity in maximizing individual potential, improving health management across the lifespan and reducing late-life morbidity.


  • Gavin Huttley & Rohan Williams, JCSMR, ANU
  • Daniel MacArthur & Lars Jermiin, The University of Sydney