The gene in question is ADRA2b and carriers of a deletion variant of this gene are likely to be more sensitive to emotional information.
"People really do see the world differently," said lead author Rebecca Todd, psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada. "For people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more," Todd noted.
Carriers of the gene variation showed significantly more activity in a region of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and evaluating both pleasure and threat.
Todd believes this may help explain why some people are more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intrusive memories following trauma.
"Emotions are not only about how feel about the world, but how our brains influence our perception of it," senior author of the study Adam Anderson, professor of human development at the Cornell University in the US, pointed out.
"As our genes influence how we literally see the positive and negative aspects of our world more clearly, we may come to believe the world has more rewards or threats," Anderson said.
Todd points out there are also benefits to carrying the gene variant. A prime example of a carrier of this variation was French novelist Marcel Proust.
"He probably was emotionally sensitive too and he was certainly creative. He is a classic deletion carrier," Todd pointed out.
The study was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
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