Navigation Links
Bad driving may have genetic basis, UCI study finds
Date:10/28/2009

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 28, 2009 Bad drivers may in part have their genes to blame, suggests a new study by UC Irvine neuroscientists.

People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant.

"These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away," said Dr. Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

This gene variant limits the availability of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor during activity. BDNF keeps memory strong by supporting communication among brain cells and keeping them functioning optimally. When a person is engaged in a particular task, BDNF is secreted in the brain area connected with that activity to help the body respond.

Previous studies have shown that in people with the variant, a smaller portion of the brain is stimulated when doing a task than in those with a normal BDNF gene. People with the variant also don't recover as well after a stroke. Given these differences, the UCI scientists wondered: Could the variant affect an activity such as driving?

"We wanted to study motor behavior, something more complex than finger-tapping," said Stephanie McHughen, graduate student and lead author of the study. "Driving seemed like a good choice because it has a learning curve and it's something most people know how to do."

The driving test was taken by 29 people 22 without the gene variant and seven with it. They were asked to drive 15 laps on a simulator that required them to learn the nuances of a track programmed to have difficult curves and turns. Researchers recorded how well they stayed on the course over time. Four days later, the test was repeated.

Results showed that people with the variant did worse on both tests than the other participants, and they remembered less the second time. "Behavior derives from dozens and dozens of neurophysiologic events, so it's somewhat surprising this exercise bore fruit," Cramer said.

The gene variant isn't always bad, though. Studies have found that people with it maintain their usual mental sharpness longer than those without it when neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's and multiple sclerosis are present.

"It's as if nature is trying to determine the best approach," Cramer said. "If you want to learn a new skill or have had a stroke and need to regenerate brain cells, there's evidence that having the variant is not good. But if you've got a disease that affects cognitive function, there's evidence it can act in your favor. The variant brings a different balance between flexibility and stability."

A test to determine whether someone has the gene variant is not commercially available.

"I'd be curious to know the genetics of people who get into car crashes," Cramer said. "I wonder if the accident rate is higher for drivers with the variant."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger
jfitzen@uci.edu
949-824-3969
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Climate change driving Michigan mammals north
2. Telescope embedded in glasses lens promises to make driving easier for visually impaired
3. Destruction of Sumatra forests driving global climate change and species extinction
4. The race for biofuels driving alternative sources of biomass
5. Extended wakefulness, combined with alcohol, severely impairs driving performance
6. Alcohol and sleep restriction can affect young mens alertness and driving performance
7. Scientists demonstrate link between genetic defect and brain changes in schizophrenia
8. Chemist receives NIH New Innovator grant for genetic drug research
9. CHEO RI study uses sophisticated genetic engineering to improve insulin-producing beta cells
10. East African cichlid fish offer new understanding of genetic basis of sex determination
11. Genetic conflict in fish led to evolution of new sex chromosomes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:8/15/2017)... 2017   ivWatch LLC , a medical device company focused ... announced receipt of its ISO 13485 Certification, the global standard for ... for Standardization (ISO®). ... 400 Continuous Monitoring device for the early detection of IV infiltrations. ... "This is an important milestone for ivWatch, ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... Delta (NYSE: DAL ) customers now can use fingerprints instead ... National Airport (DCA). ... Delta launches biometrics to board aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass experience that launched in ... the boarding process to allow eligible Delta SkyMiles Members who are enrolled ...
(Date:6/30/2017)... , June 30, 2017 Today, American ... and supplier of face and eye tracking software, ... Product provider program. "Artificial intelligence ... way to monitor a driver,s attentiveness levels while ... being able to detect fatigue and prevent potential ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/18/2017)... ... August 18, 2017 , ... ... they will feature Federal Hybrids, Inc. in an upcoming episode, scheduled to broadcast ... American Farmer will explore Federal Hybrids, the independent, family-owned seed company. Educating audiences ...
(Date:8/18/2017)... ... August 18, 2017 , ... ... for the Semiconductor, MEMS, and Microfluidics Industries, announces the new Model 800E front ... more often in automated production mask aligners. OAI has already received and ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... Springs, FL (PRWEB) , ... August 17, 2017 ... ... announced that the stock market news outlet had provided a research update on ... company's nasally administered TRT product. , According to Soulstring, prescription rates for Natesto® ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... August 17, 2017 , ... ... cancer research and personalized medicine, today announced the launch of a new breast ... Missouri. The study’s goal is to evaluate the potential for early detection of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: