Will they “fucking love science”? I wonder. Heartiste takes no little amusement in pointing to the potential ideological challenges to the secular orthodoxy increasingly being posed by genetic science:
“People really do see the world differently,” says lead author Rebecca Todd, a professor in UBC’s Department of Psychology. “For people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more.”
The gene in question is ADRA2b, which influences the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Previous research by Todd found that carriers of a deletion variant of this gene showed greater attention to negative words. Her latest research is the first to use brain imaging to find out how the gene affects how vividly people perceive the world around them, and the results were startling, even to Todd.
“We thought, from our previous research, that people with the deletion variant would probably show this emotionally enhanced vividness, and they did more than we would even have predicted,” says Todd, who scanned the brains of 39 participants, 21 of whom were carriers of the genetic variation….
Compared to non-carriers, carriers of the ADRA2b deletion variant gene estimated lower levels of noise on positive and negative images, relative to neutral images, indicating emotionally enhanced vividness, or EEV. Carriers of the deletion variation also showed significantly more brain activity reflecting EEV in key regions of the brain sensitive to emotional relevance.
About the gene
The ADRA2b deletion variant appears in varying degrees across different ethnicities. Although roughly 50 per cent of the Caucasian population studied by these researchers in Canada carry the genetic variation, it has been found to be prevalent in other ethnicities. For example, one study found that just 10 per cent of Rwandans carried the ADRA2b gene variant.
So, an aggression-linked gene is 500 times more common while an empathy-linked gene is one-fifth as common in various gene pools. But aggression and empathy probably wouldn’t have anything at all to do with actual human behavior, would they?
It’s always fascinating to see how quickly those who claim their opinions and morality are guided by science are to throw science out the window whenever it contradicts their actual beliefs and values.