Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Optimism Gene

British researchers have identified a gene they believe can determine whether someone is a cheerful optimist or a negative asshole. They showed test subjects both positive images (people hugging, people sailing, people failing on Dancing with the Stars) and negative ones (muggings, Paris Hilton at an ATM) and measured the amount of focused placed on each. Those who tended to ignore the negative and dwell only on the positive were more likely to have a certain version of a gene that controls the body’s production of serotonin. It’s thought that perhaps the “optimism gene” dampens activity in the section of the brain called the amygdala, which regulates emotions. Those with higher activity in the amygdala are prone to neurosis and anxiety. So the next time someone tells you to turn that frown upside down, go ahead and punch them in the face. Just blame it on your genes. More details here.

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