"Rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life." _ J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling's personal story of resilience went viral after she skyrocketed to fame authoring the Harry Potter series. For many years, she pressed on with her writing even while facing life as a jobless, single mother and numerous rejections from book publishers.
To persist in the face of hardship is the definition of resilience. While J.K. Rowling's example is on the extreme end, resilience nevertheless plays an important role in our behavior and the choices we make in life.
So how does our genetic code influence this critical character trait?
In a genome-wide analysis of an African American population, the authors reported 1 new gene locus, rs322931, associated with positive affect. In addition to experiencing more positive affect, those with the minor allele (the less common genetic variant) of rs322931 were also associated with less negative affect, more spiritual well-being and having more resilience. Not a bad genetic variant to inherit!
The authors speculate that rs322931 influences positive affect via the reward feedback loop in the brain. Interestingly, they arrived at this idea because the expression of the microRNAs (molecular signals) involved, and modulated by rs322931, are induced by narcotics such as cocaine and amphetamine - which high-jack the reward feedback loop to develop addictions.
Although the study only identified one gene locus for resilience, which may be limited by the small sample size (3728 individuals), it reveals how an abstract trait like resilience can be mapped out on our genome. Check out the full article here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27595594
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