Showing posts with label migratory activity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label migratory activity. Show all posts

Space, Exploratory Behavior And Genetics

So much for any psychological support for assertions regarding space as a universal or distinctive object of human curiosity. 

What about biology and anthropology? 

Isn't it true that numerous migrations, from the out-of-Africa exodus to the settlement of the American West, have altered our genetic heritage? 

Shouldn't this lengthy history of migration after migration have resulted in human creatures with a proclivity for exploration and movement? 

Genes linked to migratory behavior have been discovered, which is fascinating. 

Various polymorphisms of the dopamine D4 (DRD4) receptor, in particular, have been linked to the novelty seeking (NS) phenotype, which refers to a heritable tendency to respond strongly to novelty and cues for reward or relief from punishment, leading to exploratory activity in search of rewards as well as avoidance of monotony and punishment. 

Roussos, Giakoumaki, and Bitsios (Roussos, Giakoumaki, and Bitsios, 2009, 1655) The activities prompted by the many types of curiosity previously outlined are referred to as novelty-seeking. 

Individuals with the NS phenotype may engage in a variety of activities, including migratory activity and more "local" kinds of exploration, such as examining local resources. 

The link between DRD4 and the NS phenotype has yet to be shown clearly. 

  • Some studies and meta-analyses have shown a link between specific DRD4 polymorphisms and novelty seeking, including Laucht, Becker, and Schmidt (2006), Munaf, et al. (2008), and Roussos, Giakoumaki, and Bitsios (2009). 
  • Other investigations and meta-analyses, such as those by Schinka, Letsch, and Crawford (2002) and Kluger, Siegfried, and Ebstein, have shown no link (2002). 

The impacts of the environment on the determination of the novelty-seeking phenotype are largely unknown, as is the case with many phenotypic-genotype connections. 

Both sex (Laucht, Becker, and Schmidt 2006) and socioeconomic characteristics (Lahti, et al. 2006) have been suggested as possible modifiers of novelty seeking. 

Similarly, additional genes are likely to influence novelty seeking in substantial but unknown ways. 

  • A priori, if there is a positive association between DRD4 and novelty seeking, as some of these findings suggest, then a positive correlation between the proportion of individuals with the relevant DRD4 polymorphisms in a population and the population's distance from East Africa would not be unreasonable. 
  • As Roussos, Giakoumaki, and Bitsios point out, traits associated with novelty seeking, such as "efficient problem solving," "under-reactivity to unconditioned aversive stimuli," and "low emotional reactivity in the face of preserved attentional processing of emotional stimuli," may have been advantageous during migration periods (Roussos, Giakoumaki, and Bitsios 2009, 1658). 

Other researches have backed up this claim. 

There is "a very high connection between the number of long alleles of the DRD4 gene in a population and its prehistorical macro-migration histories," according to Chen et al. (1999, 317). (It's worth noting that 7R is the most prevalent DRD4 long allele.) 

What is the source of this link? 

Two theories are proposed by Chen et al. 

  • One is what I call the "wanderlust" theory, which claims that DRD4-related qualities encouraged people to migrate. 
  • The second idea is what I term the "selection" hypothesis, according to which DRD4-related features were chosen for after migration. 

The wanderlust theory, according to Chen et al., has "limited evidence": Immigrants have nearly the same rate of long alleles of DRD4 as their respective reference groups in their native country. 

  • These findings show that migratory tribes' greater rate of long alleles may have resulted from adaptation to the unique needs of migration. 
  • To put it another way, Chen, et alresults .'s show that the 7R variation of DRD4 (along with other long alleles) was selected for as a consequence of migration, for essentially the same reasons as Roussos, Giakoumaki, and Bitsios: Long alleles (e.g., 7-repeats) of the DRD4 gene have been associated to novelty-seeking personality, hyperactivity, and risk-taking behaviors, according to prior studies.

The inquisitive part of human nature seems to be the common thread that runs across all of these actions. 

  • It is reasonable to argue that exploratory behaviors are adaptive in migratory societies because they allowed for more successful resource exploitation in the particular environment migration entails—which is typically harsh, constantly changing, and always providing a plethora of novel stimuli and ongoing survival challenges. 
  • (320, Chen et al., 1999) Following study has backed up Chen, et al preference's for the selection hypothesis over the wanderlust theory. 

There is a substantial amount of evidence indicating qualities associated with novelty seeking DRD4 alleles have adaptive relevance for people living in migratory communities. 

This does not bode well for efforts to legitimize the exploration or settlement of space on the basis of supposedly intrinsic exploratory or migratory inclinations. 

Novelty-seeking behaviors are not the only candidate explananses for why NS-alleles of DRD4 were adaptive post-migration. According to Ciani, Edelman, and Ebstein, “the DRD4 polymorphism seems also associated with very different factors, such as nutrition, starvation resistance and the body mass index” and that “it is possible that these factors alone might have conferred an advantage of selected alleles, such as 7R, on nomadic individuals compared with sedentary ones” (2013, 595).

  • In the event that people are genetically or mentally predisposed to exploration or migration, this has minimal bearing on space exploration and migration in particular. 
  • We may all be interested and participate in exploratory activity, but we all do so in our own unique way. 
  • We aren't all enthralled by the same things, and we don't all explore for the same reasons or in the same manner. 

Importantly, the desire to travel or move to unknown regions in space is not a universal aspect of human psyche or biology. 

  • Though some of us may have one of the DRD4 gene variants linked to ancient migration, there is more evidence that these genes were chosen after migration rather than before it (because it is likely these genes were adaptive for migrants28). 
  • And perhaps also maladaptive for individuals in societies that do not provide outlets for novelty seeking, which has been proposed as an explanation for ADHD, substance abuse, and compulsive gambling in modern sedentary societies; see the references in Roussos, Giakoumaki, and Bitsios (2009).
  • This isn't conclusive evidence that DRD4 or another gene (or group of genes) was not a driving force behind migration, but there's clearly a lack of compelling evidence that it was. 

As a result, we can't use the presence of particular DRD4 polymorphisms in certain people as proof that the urge to explore and colonize space is in our genes. 

While it is conceivable that future study may find a significant genetic predictor of behaviors such as space curiosity or a desire or impulse to explore space, there is currently no evidence that these behaviors have a distinct genetic foundation. 

As a result, any reasoning for space travel that presupposes differently should be rejected at this time.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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You may also want to read more about Space Exploration, Space Missions and Systems here.

References and Further Reading:

Chen, Chuansheng, et al. 1999. Population Migration and the Variation of Dopamine D4 Receptor (DRD4) Allele Frequencies Around the Globe. Evolution & Human Behavior 20: 309–324.

Ciani, Andrea, Shany Edelman, and Richard Ebstein. 2013. The Dopamine D4 Receptor (DRD4) Exon 3 VNTR Contributes to Adaptive Personality Differences in an Italian Small Island Population. European Journal of Personality 27: 593–604.

Laucht, Manfred, Katja Becker, and Martin Schmidt. 2006. Visual Exploratory Behavior in Infancy and Novelty Seeking in Adolescence: Two Developmentally Specific Phenotypes of DRD4? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47: 1143–1151.

Roussos, Panos, Stella Giakoumaki, and Panos Bitsios. 2009. Cognitive and Emotional Processing in High Novelty Seeking Associated with the L-DRD4 Genotype. Neuropsychologia 47: 1654–1659

Schinka, J. A., E. A. Letsch, and F. C. Crawford. 2003. DRD4 and Novelty Seeking: Results of Meta-Analyses. American Journal of Medical Genetics 114: 643–648.

Wang, Eric, et al. 2004. The Genetic Architecture of Selection at the Human Dopamine Receptor D4 (DRD4) Gene Locus. American Journal of Human Genetics 74: 931–944.

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