Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ma for the brain, Pa for food and sex

Maternal and paternal genes don't contribute equally to the child's genetic makeup, this Scientific American article suggests; they actually compete to silence the other's influence. This is pretty normal, but if the process goes awry, neurological disorders result. And here's the interesting bit: apparently mothers are more responsible for cerebral stuff -- stuff to do with language, thought and complex activities -- while fathers are more responsible for pleasures of the senses: eating and mating.

Needless to say, all this is emerging knowledge, and is to be taken cautiously. But the next time you meet your parents, you may look at them strangely now that you have read the article. Ah, so this is why, you will secretly think, I have this strange, unmentionable fetish; this is why I love jalebis and candy; this is why I am poor in music and math!

Key concepts from the article [link]:
1. When passing on DNA to their offspring, mothers silence certain genes, and fathers silence others. These imprinted genes usually result in a balanced, healthy brain, but when the process goes awry, neurological disorders can result.

2. Imprinting errors are responsible for rare disorders such as Angelman and Prader-Willi syndromes, and some scientists are beginning to think imprinting might be implicated in more common illnesses such as autism and schizophrenia.

3. Even typical brains are the result of asymmetric contributions from Mom and Dad. Higher cognitive function seems to be disproportionately controlled by Mom’s genes, whereas the drive to eat and mate is influenced by Dad’s.

2 comments:

Pallavi Shrivastava said...

Had you been taking votes to stabilize your flaky stand on different titles that you are contemplating between, I would have voted for Pa for Food and Sex. Voting will be a good idea to resolve this once and for all. This post reminds me of a bit in Friends episode where Chandler ruins Ross's mind bringing up his mom. Space is too small to elaborate but it was one of the most hilarious ones. May be your friends will say the same about you after reading this post.

Hari said...

Pallavi,

Yes "food and sex" seems to be the choice -- I might change my mind again on this yet again! I don't remember that Friends episode, but I will look it up for sure...