Antisocial Behavior: Understanding Influence of Genes and the Environment
[Source: Science Daily]
A gene involved in the regulation of emotions and behavior could influence the long-term impact of violence experienced in childhood on antisocial behavior. This is the finding of a longitudinal study carried out by a team of researchers at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal (CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal) and Université de Montréal on 327 young men who live in Quebec (Quebec Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten Children), some of whom were exposed to violence as children.
“We know that people who are victims or witnesses of violence in childhood are more likely to have antisocial tendencies as teenagers and adults,” said Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, a researcher at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal. “Genetic studies have also shown that this influence may be exacerbated through differences in DNA, such as the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene,” explained Ms. Ouellet-Morin, who is a professor with the School of Criminology at Université de Montréal.
MAOA is an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters called monoamines (noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine), and a dysfunction in its action in certain areas of the brain may disrupt the regulation of emotions and behavioral inhibition. “So far, studies investigating how the MAOA gene is involved in antisocial behavior in interaction with adverse childhood experiences have been inconsistent. We did this study to try and clarify the situation,” stated Ms. Ouellet-Morin.
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