Genetic link to forgetfulness found

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Washington: Psychologists from the University of Bonn have found a connection between everyday cognitive lapses and the DRD2 gene.

Those who have a certain variant of this gene are more easily distracted and experience a significantly higher incidence of lapses due to a lack of attention.

Most of us are familiar with such everyday lapses; can't find your keys, again! Or you walk into another room but forgot what you actually went there for. Or you are on the phone with someone and cannot remember their name.

"Such short-term memory lapses are very common, but some people experience them particularly often," Prof. Dr. Martin Reuter from the department for Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn said.

Mistakes occurring due to such short-term lapses can become a hazard in cases where, e.g., a person overlooks a stop sign at an intersection. And in the workplace, a lack of attention can also become a problem-so for example when it results in forgetting to save essential data.

"A familial clustering of such lapses suggests that they are subject to genetic effects," Dr. Sebastian Markett, the principal author and a member of Prof. Reuter's team said.

In lab experiments, the group of scientists had already found indications earlier that the so-called dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2) plays a part in forgetfulness . DRD2 has an essential function in signal transmission within the frontal lobes.

"This structure can be compared to a director coordinating the brain like an orchestra," Dr. Markett added.

In this simile, the DRD2 gene would correspond to the baton, because it plays a part in dopamine transmission in the brain. If the baton skips a beat, the orchestra gets confused.

The research is published online in Neuroscience Letters.