Genes are involved in all kinds of processes in our organism, but during the past decades, their activity has been linked to specific metal fuctions and even tendency to develop certain opinions about different topics. This is an emerging field receiving a lot of interest these days, and the purpose is to identify the genes which have the ability to define personal preferences to specific topics.
Dopamine Receptor D4 (DDR4) Gene and Its Significance
Dopamine is one of the most important neurotransmitters included in highly integrated mental functions and responsible for mood regulation, reward-motivated behavior, etc. Its biological functions are very complex and they interfere with almost all the processes in the brain.
DDR gene encodes Dopamine Receptor D4, which is an important protein involved in expressing effects of dopamine in human brain. Disturbances of this gene have been associated with many psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, etc. However, recently it has been noticed that DDR4 gene has a great impact on the way we for our opinions about different topics.
One research performed in Singapore used 1771 students as a sample to conduct a survey requiring the participants to choose a side regarding one of the political issues. One of the choices was quite liberal while the other was extremely conservative. Scientists used various techniques to assess liberal and conservative tendencies of the participants. DDR4 levels were measured in all the subjects. The results revealed surprising results. There were significant differences in political views in patients with different levels of DDR4, especially in female subpopulation.
In conclusion, despite we thought that environmental factors and teachings were crucial, it seems that genes play a very important role in personal preferences to one or another way of thinking. Still, human behavior and decision-forming process are advanced mental functions with multifactor influences.
Ebstein RP, Monakhov MV, Lu Y, Jiang Y, Lai PS, Chew SH. (2015). Association between the dopamine D4 receptor gene exon III variable number of tandem repeats and political attitudes in female Han Chinese. Proc Biol Sci. 282(1813).
Ryota Kanai, Tom Feilden, Colin Firth, and Geraint Rees. (2001). Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults. Curr Biol. 21(8): 677–680.