HOW GENES GIVE YOU YOUR SOCIAL AND PERSONALITY TRAITS
Genes influence how you act and interact in unpredictable ways. Half of your behavioral traits are caused by your genes. Scientists are trying to nail down the genes that give you your unique personality.
How can your social behavior be linked at a genomic level? Genes do not directly dictate your behavior. Brain development, and behavior depend on what you inherited and also how your environment has influenced you. You produce, receive, and interpret social signals that influence how you act.
How do your genes respond to social stimuli? Social stimuli lead you to change your behavior. This alters the pathways of your brain's gene expression. Thousands of genes are involved at once in different brain regions. There are shifts in your neurognic state rather than activation of special genes in your local circuits.
Environment can bring out, neutralize, or negate the genes influence. Differences in stress responses from generation to generation can be passed along. This is not an inheritance of a particular gene, but is due to changes in your DNA methylation.
It's hard to tell what genes make you verbally fluent, make you outgoing, or give you spirituality. Behavioral genes are not solo players. It takes many genes to orchestrate each trait. The same gene may make you overeat, be depressed, or be impulsive.
Each gene comes in a variety of flavors (called alleles). These sequences vary. One allele may give you a wrong personality and another allele may increase your risk for mental illness.
GENES THAT RECENTLY MADE THE NEWS:
MARITAL SUCCESS GENE
You can get your vasopressin checked for $99 by Genesis Biolabs. This is a hormone test that checks your degree of attachment to your mate and your children. The more vasopressin you have ,m the more likely you will not be promiscuous.
The DNA preceding your vasopressin gene is responsible for fidelity. If your DNA has a short variant, your relationships will be less stable and you will lack the feeling for attachment. The vasopressin receptors are distributed differently. You will not get a reward feeling when you love or are giving, if your vasopressin level is low. These short variants are implicated in autism since connections can't be made in autism.
This gene is linked to everything from heart disease to autim, sleeping disorders and depression. It really is a very general gene linked to serotonin.
This gene called MAO-A (monanineoxidase-A) causes risk taking and aggressive behavior, gambling and addictions. Sixty percent of Asians have this gene and 40% of Caucasians also carry the gene. The amygdala region of the brain is overactive and individuals have trouble regulating their emotions. Trauma in childhood, like child abuse, can trigger this violent behavior tendency, and lead to a life of crime. High testosterone with low MAO-A results in antisocial behavior.
BOUNCE BACK GENE
This gene makes you thick skinned and you can fight life's slings and arrows. It a gene for protein that regulates serotonin brain messages. It is called the SERT gene, short for serotonin transporter.
The length of the regulating DNA at the beginning of SERT affected your behavior. A short version of the gene puts more serotonin in the synapses and causes anxiety and negative emotions. Four percent of us have this gene. With major stresses, depression runs high, around 43%. Two thirds of these depressions are in people abused as children.
CAN'T GET SATISFACTION GENE
This gene prevents you from getting excited about pleasurable things. Less dopamine is fired up in the reward circuits. This leads to drug abuse, sensation seeking, and impulsive and antisocial behavior in forming relationships. Having this gene leads to early sexual activity.
There is no social bonding when dopamine receptors are at a low level. If you have more A2 alleles, your are more trusting. Boys who have only on e A 1allelehave ore delinquencies than those who have two copies of A2 allele.
FAiLURE TO PLAN AND REASON GENE
This is the COMT gene (catechol O-methyl transferase) gene). It is linked with an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the cortex that prevents planning and reasoning. High COMT means there are low dopamine levels in the synapses. This results in poor memory and less sensitivity to pain. There is also more negative thinking and anxiety.
THE STARTLE REFLEX GENE
An involuntary blinking when you hear a sudden noise or see unpleasant pictures. A low COMT activity results in an exaggerated startle response. This low COMT could be an asset, since there are denser nerve connections present that lead to better concentration. But there is also less ability to shift one's focus. You also dwell on stressful thoughts for a long time.
These theories are intellectually appealing but can we blame our social awkwardness on having an anxiety gene? But the mechanisms for personality traits are still one of science's biggest mysteries and challenges.
SCIENCE IS RAPIDLY UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF THE GENETIC MECHANISM FOR PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL TRAITS.
Source: Science, Nov . 7, 2008
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