Gene study links stronger memories, PTSD | Science News

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Gene study links stronger memories, PTSD

Finding may help explain roots of the condition

By
5:44pm, May 14, 2012

A certain genetic signature gives some people the ability to form stronger memories. But that edge also has a dark side: increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although the genetic effect is small, the results help scientists better understand the link between especially powerful memories and sensitivity to past trauma.

Scientists led by neuroscientist Dominique de Quervain of the University of Basel in Switzerland looked at how genetic differences related to a memory task. A population of 723 healthy young Swiss adults viewed 72 photographs. After a 10-minute wait, the volunteers were asked to remember as many images as possible.

Volunteers who could remember more pictures carried a particular DNA signature in at least one copy of a gene that encodes protein kinase C alpha. In animal studies, this protein has been shown to play a role in the formation of emotional memories. The volunteers’ heightened recall was true for disturbing, pleasan

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