translating biophilia into a love of life

Avoid as many farts as possible

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Today I will write about farts.  My brain is having one, so I’m going to simply link to a (very well written) summary about how our genetics may affect our ability to interact with grumpy old ones.

To quote a post over at Origins Genome Resources:

Indeed, learning how to manage one’s response to the negative emotions of others and stay out of trouble is an important life skill. At some point, most of us learn to just avoid angry, mean or melodramatically negative people and save ourselves the strife.  Roy Perlis and colleagues, in their recent paper, “Association of a Polymorphism Near CREB1 With Differential Aversion Processing in the Insula of Healthy Participants“, show how the transcriptional regulator CREB might exert an influence on this learning process. By having subjects view images of various facial expressions, the investigators found that individuals with the TT genotype at rs4675690 (C/T) showed less negative activation in the left insula, a brain region that is known to activate when subjects feel disgust, but not happiness, desire or fear.  Subjects with the TT genotype have been shown to require more effort in the management of negative emotions and are at greater risk for suicide when being treated for depression.  In the Perlis et al., study, TT subjects showed less of an effort (as measured in key presses) to avoid viewing emotionally distressing pictures. The known role of CREB in neural plasticity suggests that this gene may facilitate neural changes associated with memory. Unfortunately, 23andMe does not cover this SNP, so I’ll just have to hope that (during the upcoming election) my insula keeps me on the path to enlightenment.

While the Perlis et. al. paper contains very interesting information, I feel it’s important to point out the study size was N = 28.  As a genetic association requires a very large population sample size to have confidence in, my puttering brain considers this a preliminary result, interesting though it may be.  Hopefully further studies will follow, so we may avoid as many farts as possible.


Written by morethangray

August 7, 2008 at 8:54 am

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  1. […] I’ve picked up interest in the interface between molecular and neuro- biology.  A recent Science publication presents results from a cleverly designed study investigating the […]

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