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Genetic Tendencies Can Be Overcome

Genetic Tendencies Can Be OvercomeEmerging animal research and studies of abused and neglected children suggest individuals with particular genotypes are at greater risk for depression, anxiety disorders, and problems with the abuse of alcohol and other substances.

These gene-by-environment interactions are so powerful that some might assume that these genotypes identify people who are predestined to negative life outcomes.

However, a new study in the May 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry challenges this view.

Investigators studied infant monkeys from four different rearing conditions to examine how social context and different forms of early adversity interact with genotype to influence behavior.

Animals reared in small social groups were more likely to be aggressive and anxious, particularly among those with a low activity MAOA genotype. However, no genotype effects were evident in monkeys reared in larger social cages.

There are some circumstances in a child’s development – such as abusive parenting – that everyone would agree constitutes “adversity.”

This study suggests, however, that other, more subtle features of the broader social environment influence development, and that genes that affect our behavioral responses are sensitive to these influences.

So even though an infant may be reared with its nurturing mother, the relative absence of other social partners, for both the mother and the infant, can result in the infant developing an anxious style of responding to challenges, particularly if it possesses a “risky” genotype.

Of particular significance, said senior author John Capitanio, Ph.D., is “that animals that were raised in rich, complex settings with mothers, other kin, and peers, were completely protected from the potentially deleterious effects of having the ‘risky’ form of the MAOA gene.”

Highlighting the importance of this study’s findings, John Krystal, M.D., editor of Biological Psychiatry, noted that “we now urgently need research that can tell us whether genetics can help us to do a better job in matching particular maltreated children to supportive interventions.

“It would seem that in the case of some of the negative consequences of childhood maltreatment, genetics is not destiny but it may seem so if society doesn’t provide these children with help that they need.”

Source: Elsevier

Genetic Tendencies Can Be Overcome

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Genetic Tendencies Can Be Overcome. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/04/30/genetic-tendencies-can-be-overcome/5620.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.