Is There Really A Psychopath Gene?

A single gene has been linked with being a psychopath — and it’s very controversial – reports Tanya Lewis at Business Insider:

As of yet, no single factor can explain what causes people to behave in ways labeled psychopathic. But research suggests our genes may play a role.

Edward Hopper's The House by the Railroad, used as inspiration for the look of the Bates house in the movie "Psycho."

Edward Hopper’s The House by the Railroad, used as inspiration for the look of the Bates house in the movie “Psycho.”

 

One gene in particular is linked with an increased risk of violent or aggressive behavior, studies have found.

Known as MAOA (monoamine oxidase A), this “warrior gene” controls the production of a protein that breaks down brain-signaling chemicals like dopamine, noradrenalin, and serotonin, which all influence mood.

But the idea of a “psychopath” gene remains controversial.

A gene for psychopathy?

People with a variant of the gene, called MAOA-L, produce less of the protein that breaks down these signaling chemicals, which in turn causes them to build up. An excess of these chemicals, scientists believe, leads to impulsive behavior (such as as hypersexuality), sleep disorders, mood swings, and violent tendencies.

James Fallon, a neuroscientist at the UC Irvine School of Medicine, was studying the brains of murderers and other violent criminals who are thought to be psychopaths, when he accidentally found out he might be one.

Not only did his brain scans look suspiciously like those of the murderers, he later found out that he also possesses the MAOA-L gene that’s been linked to aggression and antisocial behavior…

[continues at Business Insider]

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