Tim Tully on Nature Vs. Nurture
  Tim Tully     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Aug 2003

Then I got the CREB result. Well, what did that say? Well, CREB said that there was a key gene that acted as a master switch to control memory formation. If misused that information would immediately be promulgated as memory, i.e. intelligence is genetically based. Based on this background and education about the issue, I developed a model of how this works and a cartoon that shows it, which basically says that you can’t separate the two. That neuronal activity causes a biochemical activation of CREB, CREB changes gene expression which changes the connections of neurons in a circuit which changes the activity which registers an experience.

You can’t separate what you get from experience from the genetic response that you have in your brain to that experience. There’s no such thing as nurture versus nature. They interact completely in this unique organ of the brain to create a behavior. They’re not separable. It’s not appropriate to say genetic basis of memory or intelligence any more than it is appropriate to say that there is purely an environmental basis to intelligence. They are so intertwined they can’t be separated. And that derived from my motive to make sure the information was going to be used properly. (check before placing on web)

Tim Tully is a molecular geneticist, interested in finding the genetic and biological basis of memory in order to better identify pharmacological and behavioral treatments for memory loss. In 1981, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Tully joined the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory staff in 1991 to work on discovering genes involved with memory. He became the St. Giles Foundation Professor of Neuroscience and led the Drosophila learning and memory program. In 1998 he founded Helicon Therapeutics, Inc., a development-stage biotechnology firm that works on new therapies for memory loss and other cognition disorders. In June, 2007, Tully left Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to become Helicon's Acting Chief Scientific Officer, and assume a key role in the Michigan-based Dart Foundation as it expands its interest in funding neuroscience research.

His work on the transcriptional factor CREB gave way to the first experimental demonstration of enhanced memory formation in genetically engineered animals. Tully works to identify genes involved with long-term memory formation. Tully has determined that by the regulation of gene expression, new, long-term memories can be formed due to the growth of new synapses.