|Study finds gene variant linked with bad driving|
|Written by Melissa Castor, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Sunday, 08 November 2009 19:26|
A recent study found that people with a certain gene variant did 30 percent worse on a driving test than people without.
The study, published in the journal “Cerebral Cortex,” identified a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor that is secreted to the area of the brain associated with different activities performed while driving.
The study itself conducted a test on 29 people, seven of which had the variant. The test required participants to drive 15 laps on a simulated driving course with difficult curves and turns. In this part of the study scientist recorded how effectively participants navigated the twists and turns.
The researchers then repeated the test four days later. Those participants with the variant did worse both times. They also retained less the second time around.
“There are some basic processes that involve one’s brain and motor actions. However, it is a combination of all these responses…that determines ones ability and competence in driving,” Cheung said.
“Other research I would like to see in this area of study is to expand the type of activities that those individuals are involved in, in addition to driving. How about memory, facial recognition, solving special problems? Those are the tests I think they need to look into. I think this test jumps too much into conclusions,” he said.
“The study may very well be valid. I think the media attention has been silly in terms in the way they presented it. As always, it is very difficult to tell how much of the hype is coming form the scientist versus the reporting on it,” Moore said.
In an article by CNN, Cramer expressed his curiosity in finding out the genetics of those people who get into car crashes.
However, a test to determine if a person has this gene variant is not commercially available.
“If we did have a gene test I don’t know what we were going to do about it. I suppose if you knew you had the variant you would try harder to be a good driver. I would put more money on behavioral factors than genetics,” Moore said.