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ETpro's avatar

What is genetic front-loading?

Asked by ETpro (34425points) January 21st, 2013

Someone mentioned in in a lecture about addictive personality disorder, but googling it didn’t provide me any clear understanding of what it means.

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10 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

It looks like it has to do with genetic code that was present in lesser orders that had no use for them or any explanation for them. The example was DNA for synapses present in sponges.

ShanEnri's avatar

I don’t know if this helps or not but it explains front loading.
front loading

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Provides the basics of front loading,i’m unsure how it relates to addictive personality disorder in your question, may you elaborate?

ETpro's avatar

Thanks @zenvelo, and double thanks to @ShanEnri and @HolographicUniverse for the very useful links. Listening to the lecturer, the idea seemed to be that some of us are born with genetic code that is already functional and predisposes us to addictive behavior. For instance, there are those that can share a drink or two with friends on social occasions throughout their entire lives, yet never abuse alcohol. There are others that take that first drink, and don’t quit till they pass out, only to take right back where they left off the day before. They drink till it either makes their lives so untenable they see they must quit entirely, or until it kills them. The speaker was saying that the instant alcoholic is genetically front-loaded to abuse alcohol.

It appears from the links above that this was as much a misuse of the term as the intelligent [sic] design argument is. Thanks for finding the info.

HolographicUniverse's avatar


I suspected that’s where it was leading, haha it’s like saying minorities are genetically front loaded to committ crimes.

What I will say, however, is that genetic material can affect an individual to which they are inclined to certain behaviors (this concept was explored when addressing parents and their offspring sharing like interests)
For this argument to work we would have to determine what traits are most consistent with alcoholics and addicts (there has to be a constant since genetic codes vary by person)
I personally wouldn’t say it’s genetic front loading but simply an anomaly within the brain that makes an individual more perceptible to addiction over others (the same for all addiction)

ETpro's avatar

@HolographicUniverse Indeed. Human cultural behavior is incredibly complex, driven by nature, nurture; shaped by cultural norms; and in turn shaping the cultural norms of the future. Human behavior is either influenced by free will or, if the human mind is actually entirely deterministic, so complex that it gives both the owner of the mind and observers of it the impression free will exists. That makes for a mix that reductionist science finds, at least for now, difficult to study. You just can’t compare two human cultures by growing them side-by-side in petri dishes, modifying a single variable to see how each responds in the same way biologists do with bacterial cultures.

HolographicUniverse's avatar


Free will… The pivotal concept in the debate of epiphenomenology, dualism and Descartes’ models of the brain. I think human behavior is a mixture of free will and determinism (which vary in psychology, physiology and behavior itself), that being said you’re right that it makes it rather difficult for reductionist study. For instance an individual may be predisposed, rather than front loaded, with conditions that make them more susceptible to addiction even though their culture condemns the act of drinking; While alternatively you may see a child raised in poverty stricken neighborhoods but never was influenced by drugs and alcohol.Reductionism, IMO, is a little less useful in such a discussion in a wholistic sense due to chaotic differences in the organism (though it’s possible these chaotic differences are so consistent by common causes that we can reduce them categorically, like in the case for addicts)
Now im inclined to believe that cultural behavior (which is most influential IMO) is a little less complex.

I say this because culture itself is incredibly linear and it’s affect on the human psyche is constant in simple ways.

ETpro's avatar

@HolographicUniverse The case for addicts might reduce obligingly. The case for different composers deciding what tones, rhythms, phrasing and harmonies will express fear or feelings of grandeur would be much more resistant. So I’m inclined toward the school that says Epiphenomenalism can describe a lot that goes on in consciousness. Research in neuroscience has compiled an impressive body of proofs that such is true.

Still I agree with Prof. Frank Jackson, who noted, “I am what is sometimes known as a ‘qualia freak’. I think that there are certain features of bodily sensations especially, but also of certain perceptual experiences, which no amount of purely physical information includes. Tell me everything physical there is to tell about what is going on in a living brain… you won’t have told me about the hurtfulness of pains, the itchiness of itches, pangs of jealousy…”

HolographicUniverse's avatar

I would say epiphenomenon is only somewhat accurate as it doesn’t provide an adequate explanation for certain phenomena it disputes. We have discovered that in some cases his principle applies but it is not accurate in a general sense

So while we’re on addicts
We may say that one’s physical material makes a behavior irresistible despite conscious opposition but then how do we alter a hardwired brain to stop the behavior through extensive conditioning with the human being able to sustain resistance, to the substance, freely?

ETpro's avatar

@HolographicUniverse I would start by never saying “that one’s physical material makes a behavior irresistible despite conscious opposition.” Genetics can clearly confer a predisposition to addictive behavior. But I do not accept that it confers an irresistible force.

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