Genes to be Blamed for Impulsive Choices

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Fault in Our Genes

Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine have found out that the tendency to take smaller rewards rather than wait for a larger one in the future is strongly influenced by genetics. The study presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida stated that this impulsive trait can be inherited.

Scientists studied 602 twins for the project and found that the phenomena of ‘delay discounting’ gradually improves as teens get older, for instance, adults above 18 years of age have a greater ability to wait for the larger delayed reward. Moreover, the genes accounted for about half of the difference among individuals in their level of delay discounting, that is, genes are likely to influence delay discounting.

Initial data suggests that these impulsive genes may include genes coding for enzymes that synthesise the neurotransmitter serotonin and receptors where serotonin binds in the brain. The findings may bring up new techniques to treat addictions and other disorders involving choice.

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