Are We More Than Our Genes? That’s the spring focus of the Sinai and Synapses Discussion Forum. Each week, we’ll gather some of the most interesting articles on the topic from across the online world. We hope they make you think — and share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
New research suggests a person’s genes may influence how sensitive a person is to emotional information. The study, recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions. “People really do see the world differently,” says lead author Rebecca Todd, a professor in University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology. “For people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more.” (Rick Nauert, PsychCentral)
Over the years, it became clear that the truth about language origins was not quite as simple as a “language gene” or well-defined language module. (Elizabeth Svoboda, Nautilus)
Most of us understand we inherit our genes from our parents. But what scientists now know is that those genes can be turned on and off by environmental factors, such as stress and what a person eats. Dr. Kent Thornburg, director of the Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness, told conference attendees that environment is particularly important for women of child-bearing age—to the point where their zip code may be more important to their health than their genetic code. (Kristian Foden-Vencil, Oregon Public Broadcasting)
Ever wonder where colds get their name? Or why we’re all coughs and sniffles during the winter but are rarely sick in the summer? Turns out our genes change with the seasons, just like the weather. During the winter months, our bodies pump up the levels of many of the genes linked with inflammation, triggering the tell-tale signs of swelling and discomfort that our bodies use to protect us from colds and the flu. (Erin Brodwin, Business Insider)