How you look at the world depends on your gene

  • ANI, Washington
  • Updated: May 11, 2015 18:55 IST

The way you perceive the world around you depends on your genes. According to a new study, how your brain reacts to an emotional information is influenced by ADRA2B gene.

The University Of British Columbia study found carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly and had heightened activity in certain brain regions.

Lead author Rebecca Todd said people really do see the world differently, adding that for people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more.

ADRA2B influences the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Todd's latest research is the first to use brain imaging to find out how the gene affects and how vividly people perceive the world around them.

Todd added they thought, from their previous research, that people with the deletion variant would probably show this emotionally enhanced vividness, and they did more than they would even have predicted.

Carriers of the gene variation showed significantly more activity in a region of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and evaluating both pleasure and threat. Todd believes this may help explain why some people are more susceptible to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and intrusive memories following trauma.

Senior author Adam Anderson said, emotions are not only about how one feels about the world. It is also about how the brain influences our perception of it. As genes influence how people literally see the positive and negative aspects of the world more clearly, they may come to believe the world has more rewards or threats.

Todd points out people who have the deletion variant, are drawing on an additional network in their brains, which is important for calculating the emotional relevance of things in the world. In any situation where noticing what is relevant in the environment is important, this gene variation will be a positive.

The study is published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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