Memory capacity varies from person to person, and part of this variation is thought to be genetic. People with an unusual variant of one neurotransmitter receptor have worse memory than those with the more common variant, reports a paper in the November issue of Nature Neuroscience, suggesting that naturally occurring variations in this gene may account for some of the individual differences in human memory.
The authors examined the 5-HT2a type of serotonin receptor and memory performance in young volunteers. A minor variant of this gene, which differs from the more common variant by a single amino acid, occurs in 9% of the human population. The rare variant of the gene has been shown to be respond less effectively to its neurotransmitter, serotonin. The authors found that people with the rare variant learned 21% fewer words in a memory test than people with the common variant. Both groups performed equally well in non-memory tests of cognitive function, suggesting that the impairment is specific to memory.
Dominique de Quervain
University of Zürich, Switzerland
Tel: +41 1 384 26 01
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(C) Nature Neuroscience press release.
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