Ever forgotten your anniversary, where you left the car keys, or the name of a co-worker? It could be your genes are to blame. German psychologists have found a connection between such everyday memory lapses and a gene — the so-called DRD2 (dopamine D2 receptor) gene — that has been linked to forgetfulness.
In new research published in Neuroscience Letters
, the Bonn scientists determined individuals who have defective DRD2 genes are more easily distracted and experience a significantly higher incidence of memory lapses due to a lack of attention, Medical Xpress
"Such short-term memory lapses are very common, but some people experience them particularly often," said Martin Reuter, M.D., with the Department of Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn.
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He noted some short-term lapses can become a hazard in certain situations, such as when a motorist overlooks a stop sign at an intersection or a construction worker is distracted while operating heavy equipment.
In lab experiments, the scientists found the DRD2 gene plays a key role in directing brain-cell communication that they likened to "a director coordinating the brain like an orchestra." But when it malfunctions, "the orchestra gets confused."
The psychologists tested 500 women and men for the DRD2 gene and surveyed them on how frequently they experience memory lapses. The results showed that functions such as attention and memory are less clearly expressed in persons who carry a particular genetic variation of the gene they were able to identify through genetic testing of the participants.
The findings suggest that individuals who carry the defective gene might benefit from taking steps to improve their memory — such as writing down important dates and names, and compiling to-do lists that can help them remember better.
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