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"Novelty" gene

Alan J. Robinson robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Wed Jan 3 18:57:49 EST 1996

On 3 Jan 1996 07:23:57 GMT, 
Stevejoe  <stevejoe at qconline.com > wrote:

>>There's an article in the paper today about the discovery of a gene 
>>for the personality trait of "novelty-seeking" (the first gene for any 
>>personality trait)......- two of his original articles announcing his 
>>theory were part of the reading list in one of my posts last week on 
>>integrated approaches to studying the brain.
>>The newspaper report only identified the gene as being for one of 
>>the dopamine receptors.
>>Onward and upwards!
>Although I find genetics research to be quite interesting - Why is it that 
>scientists are constantly surprised to find that genes are involved in so 
>many different aspects of our biophysiology?
>Here it is folks - here is the bottom line - Genetics is a factor in 
>everything!  That's right - everything!  Whether you are destined to be a 
>basketball player or whether you are prone to arthritis or the preference 
>for aftershave lotions you prefer....  Somewhere in your genetic makeup you 
>will be able to find the reason why...
>Now I have to say this...  So What!  As far as I can see - genetics research 
>has not yielded too much in the way of positive results.  It doesn't help 
>much to tell a sick person with cancer or heart disease that their problem 
>is genetic.  Genetics will only help if we start building people from the 
>bottom up - don't look for it soon.


Many of the scientific discoveries that are announced these days with 
great fanfare often only represent trivial advances in our sum of 
knowledge.  I can assure you that this is not one of them.  Genetics 
and molecular biology are two of the most powerful tools that have 
ever been assembled to study the human brain - this area of 
scientific investigation has scarcely begun.

Because of the integrated design of the brain, there isn't one set 
of genes that control personality, another completely different set 
that controls resistance to certain diseases, and so on.  It's all 
one common pool.  Coupled with the brain's highly complex and
optimized design, it makes it virtually impossible to determine the 
brain's working in health and disease just by looking at such things 
as the firings of individual neurons.

There are a whole host of practical questions about the brain that are 
lined up waiting for answer - what is the physiological state 
corresponding to mania, and how can we stop patients from going into 
this state in the first place? - why do some patients with manic 
depression not respond to lithium? - what molecular pathways are 
involved in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, and can be interrupted 
to prevent its development.  Genetics and molecular biology are the 
tools which will be used to answer these questions.

There is also a much deeper significance to Cloninger's theory.  It 
explains correctly exactly the same medical phenomena that Freud set 
out to explain, and got all wrong.  That almost no one in the world 
has even heard of Cloninger's theory 10 years later, let alone has any 
idea what it is about represents a massive breakdown in education and 
communication in science.  On the other hand, it offers incredible 
opportunities for those who can convincingly explain this material to 
both scientists and the general public.


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