Do you think of yourself as an extravert or introvert – or perhaps somewhere in between? Although the meaning behind these terms has shifted over time, we typically associate an extroverted person with being talkative and highly sociable, whereas introverts prefer quiet and are typically more reserved. But is there an underlying reason that explains human social behavior? Could these and many other personality traits originate in our genetic information, or do they form as a result of our environment and experiences? Perhaps they arise as a result of a mixture of the two. The popular field of epigeneticsis just beginning to tackle the fascinating mystery of human personality and sociability, more recently in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered that an epigenetic mechanism is involved in silencing a gene that may control social behavior in people. Although the research is preliminary, it hints that epigenetics might play a role in determining whether someone can form healthy relationships or recognize others’ emotional states. What’s more, it could also help us understand diseases associated with impaired social ability.
The study demonstrates that epigenetics and the oxytocin receptor gene could influence falling in love.of a gene known as OXT could be connected to reduced sociability. OXT produces a well-known hormone called oxytocin that’s connected to a wide range of social behaviors. It has even been suggested that
DNA methylation reduces the expression of genes, explained the study’s lead author, Brian W. Haas. Typically, an increase in methylation will result in a decrease in the gene’s expression, impacting its functioning. Haas is also an assistant professor of psychology at University of Georgia’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
“When methylation increases on the OXT gene, this may correspond to a reduction in this gene’s activity. Our study shows that this can have a profound impact on social behaviors,” he said.
The research team collected saliva from over 120 people and assessed the level of methylation on the OXT gene via bisulfite conversion. They utilized a wide range of tests to measure their social skills and their brain structure and function to assess whether there was an association between DNA methylation and sociability.
They found that individuals who had a higher level of methylation on the OXT gene – which corresponds to suppressed gene expression – had greater difficulty recognizing the emotion behind particular facial expressions and were typically more anxious about their relationships with those they love.
For one test during the study, participants were shown short video clips of people’s faces, beginning with a neutral expression that slowly morphed into an emotional expression. The participant must hit a button as soon as they feel confident in naming the emotion.
“Participants with greater methylation of the OXT gene were less accurate in describing the emotional states of the people they saw in pictures,” Haas said. “That’s a typical characteristic associated with autism, for example.”
The team of scientists also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that measures brain activity via alterations to oxygenated blood flow. They were able to investigate the areas of people’s brains that were more active during certain tasks. Those with greater methylation of the gene demonstrated less neural activity in the regions of the brain connected to social-cognitive processing, such as the superior temporal sulcus. They also found that gray matter was reduced in the fusiform gyrus, an area of the brain that plays a key role in social cognition and face processing.
“All of our tests indicate that the OXT gene plays an important role in social behavior and brain function,” Haas concluded.
The research team cautions that their study offers only preliminary data regarding the association between DNA methylation of a particular oxytocin gene and human sociability. More research is necessary to precisely define oxytocin’s role and its genes.
“Methylation is a dynamic process, and level of methylation can change over the course of a person’s lifetime,” Haas explained. “But it may be possible to alter the level of methylation with some type of medication that could help people who have abnormalities in social cognition.” He has hopes that research on this topic may eventually progress the development of novel treatments and improve current ones for a vast range of social disorders.
Source: Haas, B.W., Filkowski, M.M., Cochran, R.N., Denison, L., Ishak, A., Nishitani, S., and Smith, A.K. (2016). Epigenetic modification of OXT and human sociability. PNAS.
Reference: University of Georgia. Silencing of gene affects people’s social lives, study shows. UGA Today. 20 June 2016.
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Dr Eddy Bettermann MD focus on Biological Medicine (Biologische Medizin), Darkfield Microscopy (Dunkelfeld Mikroskopie), Orthomolecular Medicine (Orthomolekulare Medizin), Ayurvedic Medicine (Ayurveda), Psychosomatic Medicine (Psychosomatische Medizin), raw food (Rohkost), fasting (Fasten): Our primary integrative medicine goal is the maintenance of your health and wellness, and we are committed to safe and effective healthcare. Our specialties include online integrative medicine education by alternative doctor: food and allergy management through the use of Integrative medical therapy, Environmental Medicine, General Family Medicine, Ayurveda, Panchakarma, Chronic Fatigue, ADHD, autism, Fibromyalgia, Yeast/Fungus related diseases – Candidacies, mercury dental replacement and detoxification, Natural Thyroid Replacement, Weight loss, Lyme Disease, Irritable Bowel Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Addiction related programs, Intestinal Dysbiosis, as well as trigger point therapy using Neural Therapy. Dr. Eddy Bettermann MD, physician from Germany, consultant and teacher in biological medicine, especially dark field microscopy known as Live Blood Analysis in Thailand, Malaysia, Hon Kong, Singapore and the Philippines. But he lecture also in the USA, Canada and the U.A.E. He speaks english and german. https://dreddymd.com/2017/01/17/the-interactive-live-blood-cd-and-the-certified-training-live-blood-analysis-online-course/ https://dreddymd.com/courses/ https://dreddymd.com/2017/01/17/live-blood-microscopy-analysis-darkfield-course/ “Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food.” — Hippocrates Physician Member of the Medical Board at AOX Singapore, Medical Doctor at Nurse Mobile Clinic and Physician at DrEddy Clinic Our Mission: The mission of the Integrative Medicine is to search for the most effective treatments for patients by combining both conventional and alternative approaches that address all aspects of health and wellness – biological, psychological, social and spiritual. Biological Medicine is a big part of my work and so is Dark field Microscopy, what I use in my daily practice and what I teach more then 15 years in Asia and around the world: Live Blood Analysis in dark field based on Haematology. We utilize Live blood analysis since 2004, conventional as well as specialty laboratories for a thorough diagnostic work up of the disease in question. Our integrative medicine treatment regimens are especially unique and are tailored specifically to the individual needs of each patient. Our Mission: don’t harm, prevent, use food as medicine We are a reliable partner for integrative medicine in Medical Spa & Clinic Development and integrative medicine Education Training for alternative doctors – we bring different holistic approaches, like Integrative Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda Medicine together. On your request we offer our service in your place as well. Heavy metal poisoning Heavy metal poisoning is much more common than most people realize, and if you’re thinking that it doesn’t apply to you because you haven’t been exposed to any, think again. If you’ve eaten fish regularly, had amalgam fillings, received vaccinations, drank contaminated water, or done industrial or agricultural work or pharmaceutical manufacturing, there’s a good chance that you have a fair amount of toxic metals in your system.. We are here to help and to educate! Wishing your health and happiness Dr Eddy Bettermann MD Protect you and your family from harmful radiation https://bit.ly/synergyscience-dreddymd More information about 5G and EMF: https://dreddymd.com/?s=5G+and+EMF View all posts by dreddymd