Life,  Tech

How Genes Shape Our Personality: The Science of Genetic Traits

  Neuroscientists point out that the complex mixture of DNA we inherit from our parents, as well as the roughly 70 spontaneous genetic mutations we acquire by chance, subconsciously dictate our behavior far more than we realize. Genes to some extent determine our life choices.
  Stephenson, 73, who is part neuroscientist and part philosopher, is increasingly convinced that the complex concoction of DNA we inherit from our parents, along with the roughly 70 or so spontaneous genetic mutations we acquire by chance, subconsciously dictates There is so much more to our behavior than we realize. Genes to some extent determine our life choices.
   We may not realize it, but many mundane actions in everyday life may be driven in part by the genome. For example, subtle genetic tweaks in taste receptors determine whether you prefer coffee or tea. It turns out that coffee lovers are less sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine, while tea lovers are less sensitive to other types of bitter chemicals.
  Genes influence hobbies and personality
   Fifteen years ago, a survey of 2,000 British adults first suggested the possible existence of hobbies genes. Just looking at their family trees and the pastimes their ancestors enjoyed reveals a strong preference for certain types of activities. Over the next decade, many people around the world referred to the study as they discovered a sudden inexplicable interest in a parent’s or grandparent’s hobbies as adults.
  Michael Warrenko, an insurance worker from Ottawa, Canada, said: “When I was a child, my mother took me to the community garden many times, but I never showed interest in gardening. At some point in my adult life, something came from Something deep inside jumped out and I just fell in love with gardening.”
   Large-scale genome sequencing studies (extracting DNA from samples and feeding it into sequencing machines that slowly piece together the unique sequence of chemical bases that form the basis of each person’s identity. Later, artificial intelligence algorithms put these genetic Linking the codes or genomes to detailed information about the lives of these people held in biobanks, hunting for what scientists think might be statistically significant connections) is solving the mystery. Scientists have even identified a particular genetic variant that determines whether crossword puzzles appeal to you, Stephenson said. “We know that if you have the gene, you’ll love crosswords, it doesn’t really matter if you’re good at it or not,” he said. Genome sequencing is
   also the same when it comes to the complex question of how genes determine our paths in life. Effective.
   From Boston to Shenzhen, tech start-ups of all kinds have spent years searching for so-called talent genes, genetic variants that might confer natural strength or a unique language ability, allowing a person to be steered into areas where he can be most valuable . But it’s not as simple as it seems.
   Geneticists at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, recently tried to link a gene called ROBO1 to children’s mathematical abilities. ROBO1 controls the development of gray matter in the part of the brain involved in number representation. But so far, it seems that genes play a relatively small role in all talents, whether number crunching, musical ability or athletic ability.
   Instead, genes seem to affect only our propensity to engage in certain activities, as Stephenson discovered in crossword puzzles. What really determines our ability to learn is whether we are taught as children and whether we ourselves are willing to practice, improve and persevere.
   Stephenson also pinpoints where genetics may have the most significant impact on our life paths—our personality traits. Danielle Dick, a professor of psychiatry at Rutgers University in New Jersey, believes that a large part of personality, such as extroversion or introversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, impulsiveness, and even creativity, has some kind of genetic component.
   “This reflects the fact that genes influence the way the brain is shaped to influence the way we think and interact with the world,” Dick said. “Some people’s brains are more inclined to seek stimulation or novel experiences, to take risks, or to be driven by Attracted by more immediate rewards.”
  Genes influence choice of friends and mates
   Earlier research also suggested that genes play a role in our choice of friends and even our choice of mates. In both cases, we tend to form attachments to people who share some physical similarities with ourselves. “We tend to form social relationships with people who are genetically more similar to us,” says genetic epidemiologist Andrew Diwan of Yale University. “We can think that the genes that control these traits have a certain influence on who we choose to form friendships with.” influence.”
   It turns out that genes also play a big role in our ability to maintain a stable, happy relationship over years and decades. Previous research has shown that children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce. The Yale study investigated the role of oxytocin, the hormone that makes couples feel closer to each other. When at least one partner in a marriage has a genetic variant that increases the activity of oxytocin and makes the brain more receptive to its benefits, such couples are less likely to show the psychological symptom known as anxious attachment, and the couple will also Happier.
   Anxious attachment is a specific form of relationship insecurity stemming from past experiences with close family members and ex-partners that can lead to reduced self-worth, high sensitivity to rejection, and a desire for validation. “This suggests that inherited genetic variation can affect our well-being in relationships,” Diwan said. “Genes don’t fully determine our ability to form long-term relationships, but they are a contributing factor that may nudge us toward one or the other.” Go in one direction, or go away.”
  Genetic information can be used to shape public health policy
   In medicine and psychology, psychiatrists, child development specialists, and obesity experts hope to use increasing amounts of genetic information to inform public health policy. And provide people with practical advice.
   Nicola Pilasto, a biostatistician at the Institute of Human Technology in Italy, found that genetic variations in food preferences can cause us to switch from favoring fruits and vegetables to high-calorie, high-fat foods. Because many of these variants are found in the brain, he believes obesity should be considered a disease that needs to be treated with drugs rather than dietary interventions.
   “Losing weight is very difficult,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of willpower. If you’re always hungry, of course you want to eat. So drugs to reduce food cravings can play a role. Of course, you You can also do it by adjusting your diet, but it’s like a full-time job and very few people do it.”
   As the cost of gene sequencing continues to drop, it could one day be used to screen children for signs of addictive behavior. Dick said: “My hope is that there will be less stigma in children by the public understanding that childhood behaviors such as addiction are often genetically linked. By identifying children at risk, such as addiction, early on, we can take action to help them reach their full potential. ”
   Dick believes that if a person and his family can predict that he may develop an addiction or risky behavior, so that he can actively avoid the risk, but society must also play its due role. “Many in the addiction field worry that new laws in the U.S. that make it easier for people to get psychotropic drugs and to gamble online will lead to higher rates of addiction,” Dick said. But scientists study how genes determine
   our behavior and the role it plays in our life choices is just getting started. Stephenson and other scientists have only found some of these connections, and many fundamental questions remain to be answered.

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