Graduation Date

Fall 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Ethan Gahtan

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Amber Gaffney

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Alzheimer’s disease, Early onset, Late onset, APOE, PSEN-1, Preimplantation genetic testing, Neurobehavioral traits, Direct to consumer testing, Genetic profile, Genetic counselor, Dementia, Pleiotropic genes, Observable behaviors, Genetically heritable

Subject Categories



Differences in behavioral and mental health traits result from unique interactions of genetic and environmental factors. Genetic information has improved along with technological advancements allowing for more data points to be established and increased data resolution. Because of this, there is a greater ability to identify embryos that carry genetic risk. The approach of Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) is routine for certain genetic diseases but has not been widely used for psychiatric or behavioral traits. This paper critically examines the potential application of PGT-P by focusing on one main example, Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD is the most prevalent form of dementia and is a well-studied example of pleiotropic genes that influences observable behaviors such as short term memory, judgment, and problem-solving. This disorder is relatively untreatable and genetically heritable which makes it a desirable candidate for PGT-P. This paper will describe specific risk genes involved in AD, the nature and availability of genetic risk estimates, and the ethical considerations in PGT for behavioral traits. I conclude progress in genetics research will make PGT an effective way to reduce suffering from mental health outcomes and will increase in prevalence along with government regulation and accessibility of genetic counselors. Significant obstacles include making decisions based on complex and probabilistic genetic risk estimates and ethical objections to artificial selection.

Citation Style




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