Thursday, March 17, 2016

Genetics involved in Risk-takers?

A recent study shows that people who are risk-takers may be motivated by their DNA. In recent years, scientists zeroed in on various sections of genes that affect the brain's levels or response to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a substance that is known to influence our feelings of pleasure, reward, and gratification. Scientist believed that people who enjoy extreme, daredevil conduct, likely process dopamine differently than those who are risk-averse. However, test were inconsistent.

Cynthia Thomson, a graduate student in the exercise physiology department at the University of British Columbia, formed a questionnaire and asked patrons between the ages of 17 and 19 to participate. A high score on the questionnaire indicates a strong tendency to take risks. Some volunteers gave a cheek swab for DNA typing.

While examining the swabs, Cynthia began focusing on the DRD4 genes, which are involved with the development and function of dopamine. She found that their was a difference of about three percent in the gene between those who are risk-takers and those who are risk-averse. This means that some people might have inherited the need to perform risky activities to reach the optimal level of arousal.

I have always wondered if there was anything responsible genetically for somebody's willingness to take risks. Personally, I am risk-averse. In terms of sports, some of the things that people do are life-threatening and they seem to do it without being nervous. Instead, it seems to satisfy them. It is very interesting that there is a possibility of genetics playing a role in determining who is a risk-taker or not.

1 comment:

  1. It's fascinating to think that many behaviors are in part governed by our genes. I have heard of the "risk-taking" gene before along with many other genes that scientists have found to be associated with different behaviors. However, it is difficult to distinguish what has a stronger influence on behavior; nature and nurture. There seems to be a general consensus that human behavior is a complex interaction between both. Even though our behavior does not depend solely on our genes it is interesting learning about this complex relationship.