Here’s Hopin’ for a Draw

  Talk about a battle for resources.  A new theory asserts that mental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism result from competition between genes from the sperm and egg.  They vie in utero over management of available nutrients.  The mother fights for moderation so she might live to bear another day while, given the opportunity, the father would empty the refrigerator to enhance the chance that each seed grows to maturity.

  A gene called IGF2 is inherited from both parents and promotes growth.  Usually the mother chemically muffles it so that demands for sustenance do not become voracious.  If the gene is fully active growth can becomes excessive.  As much as 50% above normal.

  The implications for brain development arise in the same region on chromosome 15.  There dominance can lead to conditions associated with autism on the father’s end of the spectrum and mood problems and psychosis on the mother’s.

  “Emotional problems like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, seen through this lens, appear on Mom’s side of the teeter-totter, with schizophrenia, while Asperger’s syndrome and other social deficits are on Dad’s. 

  One of the researchers, Christopher Badcock of the London School of Economics noticed that: “some problems associated with autism…are direct contrasts to those found in people with schizophrenia.  Where children with autism appear blind to other’ thinking and intentions, people with schizophrenia see intention and meaning everywhere.”

  My roommate tells me that I am rude, crude, unattractive, and am extremely symptomatic of all sorts of social deficit disorders.   I love it.  I is fine.  Thanks Dad!

  AMF

* I learned about all of this in an article in the 11/11/08 NYT by Benedict Carey.

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