BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: Friends

Do Genetics Play A Role In Attraction?

Have you ever met someone with whom you instantly wanted to be friends but couldn’t put your finger on why or how you felt so drawn to them? There is a reason why you might be drawn to a specific person or group of people that may be explained by biology.

Double stranded DNA with coloured basesChromosome Terminology

According to a book by a well-known author, Malcolm Gladwell, a “unconscious” region of the human brain helps us to digest information spontaneously while encountering someone or something for the first time or making a rash decision. The University of Maryland School of Medicine has expanded on this hypothesis with a new study, indicating that these reactions may have a biological foundation related to heredity. The experiment was carried out on a group of mice. Variations in a particular enzyme discovered in a portion of the brain that affects mood and drive appear to influence which mice desire to actively engage with other mice; genetically related mice favored one another. Similar circumstances, such as disorders linked with social withdrawal, such as schizophrenia or autism, might also influence people’s decisions. Consequently, researchers do not agree with the phrase “opposites attract,” because genetics have a significant role in attraction. Instead, experts propose that we choose friends based only on their similarities to ourselves. Unlike the concept of “opposites attracting,” the expression “people like their own kind” is accurate. While genes definitely contribute to an individual’s attractiveness, they only account for around one-third of the reasons why we choose someone else to be our friend.

In a separate study, researchers examined a range of variables, that often are most inheritable and those that are less inheritable, to evaluate the role genes function in our human conduct, and they discovered that “people are genetically inclined to choose as social partners those who resemble themselves on a genetic level.” Rushton discovered in this study that humans prefer to choose partners based on inheritable attributes, even when we are unaware that such characteristics are genetically determined. For example, the middle-finger length is inherited, although the upper-arm circumference is not. Spouses who took part in the study had identical middle finger lengths but not the same upper-arm circumference. The function of heredity also influences personality, which explains why “people like their own kind.” What you inherited biologically from your parents, which is defined by the genes in your DNA, is the key to personality traits. Genetic heredity accounts for almost half of our cognitive differences, from personality to mental capabilities.

Love-heart-hands

Genetics is the scientific study of genes and heredity, which transfer particular characteristics from parents to offspring due to variations in DNA sequences. The genome contains all of an organism’s genetic code, including its genes and additional components that govern the activation of those genes. We are drawn to others because of the features that we share with them through genetic material. Our DNA is stored in chromosomes, and each of the 23 pairs of chromosomes has the same genes that are handed down from parent to offspring. When a baby is being formed, DNA is handed down, and each parent sends half of their chromosomes to their kid, thus each of your parents contributes 50% of your DNA. The term “genetic love” refers to the idea of matching partners for romantic relationships based on their biological compatibility. “Genetic love” describes the notion of attraction based on heredity.

Difference DNA RNA-EN

Is it possible that you want to be friends with someone of the same genetics as yourself? Yes! It is! However, it is not the only thing that accounts for maintaining a friendship.

Metagenomics will stare into your soul… and beyond?

If you ever feel lonely, take solace in the fact that at any given time there are thousands of bacteria cells living in your gut, (inside your skin!).

As it turns out, there’s a whole lot of ‘not you‘, living in you.

Admittedly, they don’t make the best company as they tend to be on the quieter side.

They make up for it by being fantastic listeners.

Improving Human Intestinal Health

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pnnl/8146322408

Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

They also serve as an essential part of our bodily systems, referred to by Valeria D’argenio in her essay The role of the gut microbiome in the healthy adult statusas “our forgotten organ”.

One great measure of how important something is is how wrong things go when the original thing isn’t doing it’s thing properly. Put eloquently by D’argenio “Quantitative and qualitative alterations in the composition of the gut microbiome could lead to pathological dysbiosis, and have been related to an increasing number of intestinal and extra-intestinal diseases”. The Human Gut micro biome is important to maintaining good health. Interestingly though (and somewhat alarmingly), the human gut micro biome has historically been fairly hard to study. as D’argenio puts it “microbial studies were based on the direct cultivation and isolation of microbes” and then later states that “it is estimated that up to 99% of microbes are currently uncultivable”. These facts make it clear that with old methods, the human gut micro biome has been extremely hard to study effectively. Which is crazy because the human gut micro biome is so important. Metagenomics are changing the game.

Recently new strategies  known as Metagenomics have been discovered that avoid the inefficient and ineffective cultivation step. Using the “Shotgun Sequencing” strategy, scientists have become able to sequence the DNA directly and have gained the ability to sequence entire microbial communities. This new method represents a significant step in understanding the human but microbiome but it is not perfect. D’argenio references limitations to current DNA sequence databases and difficulty in deciphering DNA function as obstacles that have yet to be totally overcome.

16s rRNA Sequencing is another form of metagenomics helping to illuminate the mysteries of the human gut micro biome. All bacteria contain the 16s rRNA. The 16s rRNA Sequencing gene takes advantage of this fact by identifying this gene in a large sequence and gaining a clearer view of which bacteria species are present in certain environments. This strategy is cost effective and can be performed rapidly but offers no insight as to bacterial function.

Metatranscriptomics succeeds where 16s rRNA Sequencing fails. In the words of D’argenio “Metatranscriptomics serves to analyze the entire transcriptome of an environmental site to obtain a comprehensive view of gene expression profiles and functional data”. Put simply metatranscriptomics, a form of metagenomics, is able to attain data on gene expression, not just sequencing. This is a major step in the analysis of the human gut microbiome as with this advancement we move closer to finding out exactly which aspects of the micro biome lead to which effects on the human body.

I’m personally excited about advancements in this field, because it seems like the human gut micro biome is important to our health and well being. The more we know about it the more we’ll be able to treat our bodies healthily. Which would be great!

The Science of the Appeal Behind Dark Personalities

A recent study suggests that many people have a mysterious attraction to dark personalities. Specifically, people with traits like Machiavellian, narcissism, and psychopathy. These three traits are called the “Dark Triad” and people with these traits were found to be more attractive than those who were seen to have less of these characteristics. On this surface, it seems bogus. Who in their right mind finds a psychopath to be sexy? However, a quick examination of society proves otherwise. Dark brooding characters seem to be all the rage right now, it’s why movies like the Twilight series sell out (teenage girls swoon over Edward’s moodiness) and why TV shows with characters forced to make morally ambiguous decisions like The Walking Dead are hits.  In the experiment,

Each student was photographed soon after they arrived.  Then, after taking this initial photograph, each student asked to change out of their own clothes and put on a pair of gray sweatpants and a t-shirt…The students were then photographed in this more natural state. Holtzman and Strube showed both sets of photographs to a group of strangers who rated them in terms of physical attractiveness. By comparing the attractiveness ratings of the dressed-down and dressed-up students, the researchers were able to determine how much each student was able to make themselves more appealing through flashy clothes, makeup, accessories, etc.

The students in the study were then tested for the Dark Triad, and the results were confirmed with the friends and family of the students. While there was a definite correlation between attractiveness in the photos of the dressed up students and a high Dark Triad score,

the dark triad score was not related to ratings of physical attractiveness in the dressed-down photos. In other words, people with dark personality traits are not seen as more physically attractive than others when you take away their freedom to wear their own clothes and makeup.

This suggests that people with darker personalities are simply better at making themselves look nice. Do I believe this? To a large extent, yes. The more narcissistic you are, the more you’re going to care about your appearance.

 

http://pixabay.com/en/view-science-diagram-human-cartoon-40356/
The amygdala is the portion of the brain believed to be responsible for these kinds of personality traits.

The article does add one important point: choose your friends carefully. Social interactions  and the way we perceive others, is a complex mechanism. The amygdala is a small part of the brain that is responsible for much of our social interactions and ability to connect to others. This part of the brain plays a big role in deciding who seems like a potentially good friend and who you may want to avoid. Initially  humans being tend to associate physical attractiveness with goodness and trustworthiness,

a phenomenon known as “the halo effect.” When we perceive someone as physically attractive, we automatically assume they are also kinder, smarter, and more confident. Therefore, creating a physically attractive veneer is a highly effective way of creating an advantageous first impression.

 

As the saying goes: don’t judge a book by its cover.

 

Sources:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=psychology-uncovers-sex-appeal-dark-personalities&page=2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_triad

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala#Social_interaction

Photo: http://pixabay.com/en/view-science-diagram-human-cartoon-40356/

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Just for fun, I took a Dark Triad quiz.  Click on he link to take it yourself. Judging from my score, I should be able to make myself look like Miss Universe. I can’t, in case you were wondering. As with any kind of generalizations such as these, they are never 100%. Leave a comment with your result. Do you agree with it?

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