Increased willingness to sacrifice anything related to the "altruism gene"


09/11/2010

Whether you love to do good to people? If so, the whole thing is in your genes. This, at least, according to an analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Bonn. According to the analysis, the minute change in a particular gene is associated with a significantly higher willingness to sacrifice anything. People with this change gave twice as much money to charity than other study participants.

The results are published in the journal Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience.

Researchers working under the guidance of a professor of psychology Dr Martin Reuter (Martin Reuter), involved their students to participate in experiments. Approximately 100 participants had to remember a series of numbers and then repeat them as accurately as possible. They received an amount of five euros as compensation for it. Then they can take your hard earned fee or donate any of it to charity. This action was voluntary and was conducted in complete anonymity. "However, we always knew how much money was in the cash box beforehand and could therefore calculate the amount donated" - explains Reuters.

Scientists asked the participants to conduct a preliminary experiment, a sample of tissue (to swab the inside of the cheek), cells which they extracted DNA for genetic analysis. In this assay, they focused their attention on a single gene, so-called gene COMT. It includes components for construction of an enzyme which inactivates the activity of certain transmitters in the brain. The most famous of these transmitters is dopamine (dopamine).

For almost 15 years it is known that there are two different versions of the gene COMT: COMT-Val and COMT-Met. Both versions that are in humans given the same frequency which differ by only a single building block. For people with this COMT-Val, corresponding enzyme operates four times more efficient. Thus, much more than dopamine in the brain deactivated with this option.

This mini-mutation also has an effect on behavior. "Students with COMT-Val gene donated twice as much money, on average, than did students with the option COMT-Me" - explains Reuters. For the first time researchers have been able to establish a connection between a particular gene and altruistic impulses in human behavior. However, previously been known from studies on twins that altruistic motives also partially under the influence of our genes.

There is a significant reason that the University of Bonn scientists focused their analysis on the gene COMT. For several years it has been known that dopamine is involved in the management of social behavior in animals and humans. Thus, the messenger, together with such substances, such as neuropeptide vasopressin (neuropeptide vasopressin), affects sexuality and mating. Furthermore, dopamine is associated with positive feelings. Even a motivated stimuli is controlled by this important neurotransmitter. The popular news portal talk about what’s going on in the world.


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