Repeating errors: Don't blame yourself; its genetic fault

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London, Dec 8 (UNI) Ever wondered at the reason of not being able to learn from past mistakes and repeating them time and again.

The answer could simply lie in your genetics.

According to a new study, variation in the DNA of a gene within the brain seems to impair the ability of a person to improve their performance based on knowledge of earlier errors.

The same variant had previously been linked to addictive and compulsive behaviours in humans.

When people inherit this variation of the gene, called A1, they make fewer docking points in the brain for a chemical called dopamine, one that carries messages between brain cells and plays a vital role in movement, balance, reward and pleasure circuits.

The discovery, reported in the journal Science, was carried when two groups of healthy men, one that carried the A1 variant and one that did not, were tested on the basis of pair of symbols shown in random order. They received positive or negative feedback after each successive choice, given in the form of smiling or frowning faces.

The tests showed that volunteers with the A1 variant were less successful at learning to avoid mistakes, implying that they responded less to negative feedback than the volunteers in the other group.

Brain scan studies also supported this result, revealing that in the A1 carriers, a reduced ability to learn from errors was accompanied by diminished activity in a brain area already known to monitor for errors.

Researchers, however, maintained that more research was needed to show how the findings applied to real world situations.

Experts stressed that making mistakes, and the link with addiction, was bound to depend on lots more genes. The variant investigated was not the only cause for example of an addiction but might contribute to a predisposition for developing an addiction.

UNI

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