New genetic links to impulsive behaviour found
Washington, Nov 17 : Being impulsive can explain many things -- why we utter things we regret, buy items that we can do without or even develop dangerous addictions.
Indeed, different kinds of hastiness and rashness are built into our DNA, suggests a new study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Scott Stoltenberg, assistant professor of psychology at Nebraska-Lincoln, found impulsiveness tied to a rarely researched gene, NRXN3.
The gene plays a key role in brain development and in how neurons (brain cells) function, the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence reports.
Researchers measured impulse levels in nearly 450 participants -- 65 percent women and 35 percent men -- via a wide range of tests, according to a Nebraska statement.
Then, they compared those results with DNA samples from every participant which showed that impulsiveness was significantly higher among those who smoked or who had alcohol or drug problems.
This connection was more prevalent among men compared to women and may explain alcohol or drug dependence, Stoltenberg said.
"Impulsiveness is an important underlying mechanism in addiction," he said. "Our finding that NRXN3 is part of the causal pathway toward addiction is an important step in identifying the underlying genetic architecture of this key personality trait."
The results, interestingly, also came down along gender lines. In men, two connections clearly emerged; first, between a particular form of the NRXN3 gene and attentional impulsiveness, and second, between another NRXN3 variant and alcohol problems.
The connections for women, meanwhile, were much weaker. Stoltenberg said the gender-specific results are a rich area for further study. (IANS)