One teenager likes to snowboard off a cliff. Another prefers to read a book and wouldnt think of trading places. Why these differences exist is a mystery, but for the first time researchers have identified a possible genetic explanation behind risk-seeking behavior.
Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found that a specific neurodevelopmental gene, called neuroD2, is related to the development of an almond-shaped area of the brain called the amygdala, the brains emotional seat. This gene also controls emotional-memory formation and development of the fear response, according to research led by James Olson, M.D., Ph.D., associate member of the Clinical Research Division at the Hutchinson Center.
The findings will be published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Sept. 26. Olson and colleagues studied mice with a single copy of the neuroD2 gene and found they had an impaired ability to form emotional memories and conditioned fear.
Dean Forbes | EurekAlert!
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