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Is the spirit of adventure encoded in our genes?

| | April 17, 2019

There’s one particular behavioral question that unites many animal species: “Should I explore the wider environment or exploit my current environment?”

There’s a gene that underlies this behavior in fruit flies commonly referred to as the “foraging gene.” It has two specific variants: One is thought of as a “rover” variant, which predicts wider and more comprehensive search paths during exploration. The other can be thought of as the “sitter” variant, which predicts a more conservative exploration style.

In a recently published study in the journal PNAS, a group of researchers tested whether the human equivalent of the foraging gene, known as PRKG1, may also predict how humans explore the world.

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[College volunteers] played a game where they were asked to find as many berries as they could in a computerized environment.

People with [the] human sitter variant had a more cautious “do the right thing” mentality and were more likely to stick to the game’s external boundaries.

Fascinatingly, this behavior parallels the actions of fruit flies that have the cautious sitter variant of the foraging gene. Just like their human peers, these flies hug the boundaries of a foraging environment and avoid adventurous search strategies.

Read full, original post: The Human Zeal for Adventure Has a Genetic Basis

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