Scientists discover gene and part of brain that make people gullible
By ED YONG - NOT EXACTLY ROCKET SCIENCE
Added: Thu, 01 Apr 2010 23:00:00 UTC
Scientists have discovered the part of the brain that makes people gullible, it was claimed today. The findings could have massive implications for treating the growing number of people who fall wide-eyed for sensationalist media reports.
Professor Cristoph Morris, who led the research, said that a part of the brain called the inferior supra-credulus was unsually active in people with a tendency to believe horoscopes and papers invoking fancy brain scans. âThis correlation is so strong that we can speculate about a causal link with a high degree of certainty,â he concluded.
Morris made his discovery using a brain-scanning technique called fluorescence magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which can read peopleâs thoughts with an incredible degree of accuracy, just slightly better than chance. His results are published in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychoimagery.
When Morris studied individual neurons within the supra-credulus, he found that gullibility was associated with the activity of a single gene called WTF1. The less active it was, the more feckless people were. This fits with existing evidence, for faulty versions of WTF1 have already been linked to a higher risk of being Rickrolled and buying the Daily Mail. âYou could say that gullibility is in your genes,â said Morris. âYouâd be shatteringly wrong, but that wouldnât matter to gullible people.â
The researchers described their discovery as âthe holy grail of behavioural neurogeneticsâ. Morris explains, âItâs a real breakthrough. It means that we can fire a magic bullet right into the heart of sensationalist media stories. We can develop vaccines that stop people from buying things on the grounds that the packaging has a smiling farmer on it or that theyâre endorsed by the cretin who may or may not have lost Big Brother.â
- - PhysOrg.com Comments
Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action. Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology
- - Sense About Science 6 Comments
Welcome to this questions and answer session on cross fertilisation, which has also been called contamination, with Wendy harwood and Huw Jones.
Rothamsted Research - YouTube/Sense... 79 Comments
Add your support to the appeal from scientists at the publicly funded Rothamsted Research: Don't Destroy Our Research.
Edyta Zielinska - TheScientist 7 Comments
Genes shared across species that produce different phenotypes—deafness in humans and directional growth in plants—may reveal new models of disease.
MORE BY ED YONG
Ed Yong - Nature News Comments
Under the supervision of guards and graduate students, a small group of prisoners is breeding the beautiful orange-and-white insects in a greenhouse outside the prison. They have even carried out research to show what plants the butterfly prefers to lay its eggs on.
Ed Yong - Discover Magazine Blogs Comments
Did bacteria also help the single-celled ancestors of animals to band together? Did they contribute to the evolutionary foundation of every ant and elephant, every fish and finch?
Ed Yong - nature Comments
A jellyfish made of silicone and rat heart cells 'swims' in water when subjected to an electric field. HARVARD UNIV./CALTECH
Ed Yong - Discover Magazine 17 Comments
Scientists have used mammoth remains to discover much about how the mammoth lived and died, and even to sequence most of its genome. But can they also bring the animal back from the dead?
Ed Yong - TheScientist 12 Comments
Live Slow, Die Old
Ancient bacteria living in deep-sea sediments are alive—but with metabolisms so slow that it’s hard to tell.
Ed Yong - TheScientist 11 Comments
A new system decodes brain signals from the motor cortex of monkeys and translates them into basic arm movements, despite temporary paralysis.