Does it make sense to name genes after talents/skills/interests?

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Offline ConfusedHermit

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I get that there are genes that cover large/general areas of aspects of what make each of us up as individuals, but whenever I hear the cliche line "*insert talent here* is in your blood" or "*insert interest here* is in our family's blood" I wonder if that can be considered scientifically true.

I love writing. Now, there's probably a gene in me that leads me to want to express myself, a gene for wanting to succeed so the connection of 'books = money = success' is probably in there somewhere...

But is it fair to say that I have a 'writing' gene?
And most of us on the forums; do we have a 'interest in science' gene?

Extra thoughts:
- Could we pin-point where they are and what they look like?

- Are there genes that only I have or that only you have? Liking your own smell, for example?

- Random: Could gene therapy be used to insert such specific genes? Could I take a sports-lover's 'love for a certain sport' gene and suddenly give a hoot about it? :{O~
« Last Edit: 19/06/2013 15:15:51 by ConfusedHermit »


Offline CliffordK

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Most of those terms sound extremely unscientific, so I find it unlikely we will ever isolate a "math gene". 

Nonetheless, I truly believe that all men are not quite created equally, and some may be better at math, and some may be better at language, and some may be more balanced. 

There may be a group of genes that help impart certain predispositions, but in many cases, it may not be a single gene.

Should we be considering phenotypes rather than genotypes?


Offline RD

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... Could gene therapy be used to insert such specific genes? ...

It would be too late to introduce such genes into an already formed adult brain : The genes for numeracy / spatial-visualization / perfect-pitch / etc  would have to be present when the brain was forming.
« Last Edit: 19/06/2013 21:08:17 by RD »


Offline evan_au

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There are anecdotal stories of families where great sportsmen had children who were great sportsmen, and great mathematicians had children who were also great mathematicians. But it's not universal - sometimes great sportsmen & great mathematicians come from families with no history of great ability. Like many things, it is a mixture of genetics & environment.

There are many "bad" mutations that could destroy a person's ability at sport or math.
But absent these "bad" mutations, identifying the many gene variants that might make you slightly better at sport or maths will require large-scale research, including:
  • whole-gene sequencing of many people,
  • probably with two groups: One group that is especially good in this field, and another group who are "average" in this field
  • together with a test of their ability at sport or math,
  • and a questionnaire to assesses their level of math education or sports training
It is likely that such a survey will highlight a large number of gene variants which each have a small impact on ability, but the overall variation between individuals will still be much larger than the variation between individuals which can be accounted for by these genes.

This is because environmental influences often have as large an influence as genetics. But at least, if we could identify the genetic influences, we could encourage people to get into fields where they might have a natural advantage.