Sunday, July 10, 2016
DO YOUR GENES MAKE YOU A CRIMINAL?
When it comes to anti-social behavior you may not have been born a criminal, but a combination of environment and genes could control your fate. A recent study found experiences in childhood like sexual abuse and parent's divorce could affect gene expressions that control a person's predisposition to delinquency. When given a sample of saliva, one of the genes that was examined was Monoamine Oxidase A(MAOA). The gene, which is a key enzyme, breaks down and releases energy in brain neurotransmitters. The transmitter, such as serotonin, can contribute to feelings of happiness and well-being. The less active variant is carried by 25% of Caucasian men. Among the 25%, those who experienced childhood physical abuse are more likely to display serious anti-social behavior from childhood through adulthood than those who were not abused. The likelihood of anti-social behavior among females increased with the high activity variant of the MAOA gene that interacts with adversity in childhood. BDNF, which impacts neuronal plasticity, was another gene that was examined. Neuronal plasticity is the brain cells' ability to reorganize pathways and connections throughout our lives. 30% carried low expressing variants of BDNF. This variant was associated with violent behavior if carriers were exposed to aggressive peers according to previous studies. The serotonin transporter 5-HTTLPR was the third gene variant studied. It was carried by 20% of the individuals in the saliva study. Those exposed to adversity in childhood are more likely to display anti-social behavior with this low variant than those carriers who were not exposed to adversity. Other research too has shown that childhood trauma can lead to aggressive or criminal behavior. Even though trauma may lead to criminal behavior in youths, it is not because the child all of a sudden sees something bad and they go bad. Their word seems a hostile place because their source of protection wasn't there when they needed it. Now they feel they need to protect themselves.