Are dancers genetically different than the rest of us? Yes, says Hebrew University researcher

February 01, 2006

What makes dancers different than the rest of us? Genetic variants, says a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In a study published in the American journal, Public Library of Science Genetics, Psychology Prof. Richard P. Ebstein and his research associates have shown, through DNA examination, that dancers show consistent differences in two key genes from the general population. Ebstein is the head of the Hebrew University Psychology Department's Scheinfeld Center for Human Genetics in the Social Sciences.

This finding is not surprising, says Ebstein, in view of other studies of musicians and athletes, which also have shown genetic differences.

Ebstein and his colleagues found in an examination of 85 dancers and advanced dancing students in Israel variants of two genes that provide the code for the serotonin transporter and arginine vasopressin receptor 1a.

Both genes are involved in the transmission of information between nerve cells. The serotonin transporter regulates the level of serotonin, a brain transmitter that contributes to spiritual experience, among many other behavioral traits. The vasopressin receptor has been shown in many animal studies to modulate social communication and affiliative bonding behaviors. Both are elements involved in the age-old human social expression of dancing.

The genetic evidence was corroborated by two questionnaires distributed by the researchers to the dancers. One is the Tellegen Absorption Scale (TAS), that correlates aspects of spirituality and altered states of consciousness, and the other is the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (TPQ), a measure of the need for social contact and openness to communication.

The genetic and questionnaire results of the dancers were compared with those of two other groups examined - athletes as well as those who were both non-dancers and non-athletes. (Athletes were chosen for comparison since they require a good deal of physical stamina like dancers.)

When the results were combined and analyzed, it was clearly shown that the dancers exhibited particular genetic and personality characteristics that were not found in the other two groups.

The dancer "type," says Ebstein, clearly demonstrates qualities that are not necessarily lacking but are not expressed as strongly in other people: a heightened sense of communication, often of a symbolic and ceremonial nature, and a strong spiritual personality trait.

Others involved in the research with Ebstein were his Ph.D. student Rachel Bachner- Melman, as well as additional researchers from Israel and France.
-end-


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Related Serotonin Articles from Brightsurf:

First look at how hallucinogens bind structurally to serotonin receptors
Although hallucinogenic drugs have been studied for decades, little is known about the underlying mechanisms in the brain by which they induce their effects.

Guilt by dissociation: Study sheds light on serotonin in autism
A study on serotonin, a mood-regulating molecule in the brain that regulates many brain synapses, is helping to unravel the puzzle surrounding its role in autism.

How serotonin balances communication within the brain
Our brain is steadily engaged in soliloquies. These internal communications are usually also bombarded with external sensory events.

Why do we freeze when startled? New study in flies points to serotonin
A Columbia University study in fruit flies has identified serotonin as a chemical that triggers the body's startle response, the automatic deer-in-the-headlights reflex that freezes the body momentarily in response to a potential threat.

Settling the debate on serotonin's role in sleep
New research finds that serotonin is necessary for sleep, settling a long-standing controversy.

Whole grain can contribute to health by changing intestinal serotonin production
Adults consuming whole grain rye have lower plasma serotonin levels than people eating low-fibre wheat bread, according to a recent study by the University of Eastern Finland and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Serotonin boosts neuronal powerplants protecting against stress
Research from the Vaidya and Kolthur-Seetharam groups (TIFR) shows that the neurotransmitter serotonin enhances the production and functions of neuronal mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, and protect against stress.

Fight or flight: Serotonin neurons prompt brain to make the right call
Known for its role in relieving depression, the neurochemical serotonin may also help the brain execute instantaneous, appropriate behaviors in emergency situations, according to a new Cornell study published Feb.

New images show serotonin activating its receptor for first time
A team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have used high-powered microscopes to view serotonin activating its receptor for the first time.

Serotonin-Noradrenalin reuptake inhibitors may cause dependence and withdrawal when stopped
The difficulties that people have in discontinuing antidepressant medications has been in the news recently.

Read More: Serotonin News and Serotonin Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.