‘Warrior gene’ turns boys into violent gang members

June 6th, 2009 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 6 (IANS) Boys who carry the “warrior gene” are more likely to join gangs and become their most violent members, ready to pull the trigger anytime, according to a new study.
The ‘warrior gene’ is a variation of Monoamine Oxidase A (MAOA), which has been specifically linked to gangs and guns for the first time, by the Florida State University (FSU) researchers.

However, girls with the same variant seem resistant to its potentially violent effects on gang membership and weapon use.

Led by noted bio-social criminologist Kevin M. Beaver at FSU College of Criminology, the study sheds new light on the interplay of genetics and environment that produces some of society’s most serious violent offenders.

“While gangs typically have been regarded as a sociological phenomenon, our investigation shows that variants of a specific MAOA gene, known as a ‘low-activity 3-repeat allele,’ play a significant role,” said Beaver, who has co-authored more than 50 published papers on the subject.

“We found that variants of this gene could distinguish gang members who were markedly more likely to behave violently and use weapons from members who were less likely to do either.”

The MAOA gene affects levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that are related to mood and behaviour, and those variants that are related to violence are hereditary.

Some previous studies have found the “warrior gene” to be more prevalent in cultures that are typified by warfare and aggression, said a FSU release.

The new study examined DNA data and lifestyle information drawn from more than 2,500 respondents to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

These findings are slated for publication in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry.

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