Emerging research suggests that, alongside genes and environment, much of who we become is down to chance occurrences in the developing brain. Does that mean parents are off the hook?

Humans | Leader 21 September 2022


DO YOU have your mother’s DIY skills, your father’s sense of humour or your granddad’s love of cooking? What or who is to blame for your short temper, your inability to draw or your hatred of radishes?

Whether the differences between people are down to nature or nurture, genes or environment, has long divided scientists and philosophers alike. Now, it appears we have all been overlooking a third factor: sheer chance.

It turns out that random fluctuations of molecules inside our developing brain cells may play a role in their eventual wiring diagram, swaying developmental outcomes such as how extroverted, …