Study finds gene that predicts happiness in women
A recent study published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry reported that the low activity form of the gene monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) is associated with higher self-reported happiness in women. The MAOA gene regulates the activity of an enzyme that breaks down serontin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain — the same “feel-good” chemicals targeted by many antidepressants.
After controlling for various factors, ranging from age and education to income, the researchers found that women with the low-expression type of MAOA were significantly happier than others. Compared to women with no copies of the low-expression version of the MAOA gene, women with one copy scored higher on the happiness scale and those with two copies increased their score even more.
While a substantial number of men carried a copy of the “happy” version of the MAOA gene, they reported no more happiness than those without it. The researchers suspect the difference may be explained in part by the hormone testosterone, found in much smaller amounts in women than in men.
The researchers analyzed data from a population-based sample of 345 individuals – 193 women and 152 men – participating in Children in the Community, a longitudinal mental health study. The DNA of study subjects had been analyzed for MAOA gene variation and their self-reported happiness was scored by a widely used and validated scale.
Henian Chen, Daniel S. Pine, Monique Ernst, Elena Gorodetsky, Stephanie Kasen, Kathy Gordon, David Goldman, Patricia Cohen; The MAOA gene predicts happiness in women; Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. Accessed on August 28, 2012, from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2012.07.018