Summary: According to researchers, the same genes that make us prone to depression could also make us prone to positivity.
Source: Oxford University.
The same genes that make us prone to depression could also make us prone to positivity, two psychology researchers have suggested.
Professors Elaine Fox, from Oxford University, and Chris Beevers from the University of Texas at Austin reviewed a number of studies for their paper in Molecular Psychiatry. They say that there is a need to combine studies in mental health genetics with those that look at cognitive biases.
Professor Beevers said: ‘Cognitive biases are when people consistently interpret situations though particular mental ‘filters’ – when people have a cognitive bias that emphasises negative aspects or thoughts, they are more at risk of mental health disorders. There is a lot of research about these biases, and a lot of research about genes that may make people susceptible to mental ill health. However, we suggest that it could make more sense to bring together these two areas of research.’
Professor Fox said: ‘If you take a gene that is linked to mental illness, and compare people who have the same genetic variant, it becomes clear that what happens to their mental health is based on their environment. We suggest that while no gene ‘causes’ mental ill health, some genes can make people more sensitive to the effects of their environment – for better and for worse.
‘If you have those genes and are in a negative environment, you are likely to develop the negative cognitive biases that lead to mental disorders. If you have those genes but are in a supportive environment, you are likely to develop positive cognitive biases that increase your mental resilience.’
Professor Fox is currently carrying out further research into this combined genetic and environmental effect on our mental filters, which she has dubbed the ‘CogBIAS project’, in a programme of work funded by the European Research Council.
She intends to see how sets of genes may affect mental health outcomes and how these are moderated by people’s environments. The hope is that such research may enable us to understand people’s underlying genetic sensitivity and deliver more tailored support to deliver the best possible mental resilience and health for each person.
About this psychology research article
Source:Oxford University Image Source: This NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the Oxford University press release. Original Research: Full open access research for “Differential sensitivity to the environment: contribution of cognitive biases and genes to psychological wellbeing” by E Fox and C G Beevers in Molecular Psychiatry. Published online July 19 2016 doi:10.1038/mp.2016.114
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Oxford University. “Same Genes Could Make Us Prone to Both Happiness and Depression.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 22 July 2016. <https://neurosciencenews.com/genetics-psychology-happiness-depression-4726/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Oxford University. (2016, July 22). Same Genes Could Make Us Prone to Both Happiness and Depression. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved July 22, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/genetics-psychology-happiness-depression-4726/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Oxford University. “Same Genes Could Make Us Prone to Both Happiness and Depression.” https://neurosciencenews.com/genetics-psychology-happiness-depression-4726/ (accessed July 22, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Differential sensitivity to the environment: contribution of cognitive biases and genes to psychological wellbeing
Negative cognitive biases and genetic variation have been associated with risk of psychopathology in largely independent lines of research. Here, we discuss ways in which these dynamic fields of research might be fruitfully combined. We propose that gene by environment (G × E) interactions may be mediated by selective cognitive biases and that certain forms of genetic ‘reactivity’ or ‘sensitivity’ may represent heightened sensitivity to the learning environment in a ‘for better and for worse’ manner. To progress knowledge in this field, we recommend including assessments of cognitive processing biases; examining G × E interactions in ‘both’ negative and positive environments; experimentally manipulating the environment when possible; and moving beyond single-gene effects to assess polygenic sensitivity scores. We formulate a new methodological framework encapsulating cognitive and genetic factors in the development of both psychopathology and optimal wellbeing that holds long-term promise for the development of new personalized therapies.
“Differential sensitivity to the environment: contribution of cognitive biases and genes to psychological wellbeing” by E Fox and C G Beevers in Molecular Psychiatry. Published online July 19 2016 doi:10.1038/mp.2016.114