Thrill-seeking May Have Genetic Basis

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 14 (UPI) — A U.S. researcher says the urge to do exciting things for thrills may be related to gene mutations linked to dopamine.

Jaime Derringer, a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota, says thrill-seeking may be linked to mutations in a group of genes governing the dopamine brain chemical messaging system.

“Not everyone who’s high on sensation seeking becomes a drug addict,” Derringer says in a statement. “They may become an U.S. Army Ranger or an artist. It’s all in how you channel it.”

Derringer and colleagues looked for a mutation in DNA called a single-nucleotide polymorphism. They narrowed 273 single-nucleotide polymorphisms to 12 and analyzed the genetic information of 635 people involved in an addiction study.

The 12 single-nucleotide polymorphisms combined explained just under 4 percent of the difference between people in sensation seeking.

“This may not seem like a lot, but it’s quite large for a genetic study,” Derringer says. “We used a sample of 635 people, which is extremely small, and we were still able to detect a significant effect. That’s actually quite rare in these studies.”

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