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Education Science

Genetic Glitch May Prevent Kids From Learning From Their Mistakes 500

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bzzt-ow-bzzt-ow-bzzzzzzzzzt-ooooooow dept.
jamie pointed out an interesting piece being featured in Newsweek that claims a "genetic glitch" may prevent some kids from learning from their mistakes to the same degree as others. "If there is one thing experts on child development agree on, it is that kids learn best when they are allowed to make mistakes and feel the consequences. So Mom and Dad hold back as their toddler tries again and again to cram a round peg into a square hole. [...] But not, it seems, all kids. In about 30 percent, the coils of their DNA carry a glitch, one that leaves their brains with few dopamine receptors, molecules that act as docking ports for one of the neurochemicals that carry our thoughts and emotions. A paucity of dopamine receptors is linked to an inability to avoid self-destructive behavior such as illicit drug use. But the effects spill beyond such extremes. Children with the genetic variant are unable to learn from mistakes. No matter how many tests they blow by partying the night before, the lesson just doesn't sink in."
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Genetic Glitch May Prevent Kids From Learning From Their Mistakes

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  • Hey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Herr_Skymarshall (1029532) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:28PM (#24562671)
    Let's party like we don't know any better!
  • Takes all kinds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XanC (644172) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:29PM (#24562679)

    Is this humanity's insurance policy against catastrophic changes, where the old rules don't apply?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by postbigbang (761081)

      Perhaps, perhaps not.

      Consider that many kinds of sociopathy have the same kind of behavioral characteristics, but also include lack of guilt, inability to love, and parrotting of a number of emotions.

      Correlation != Causation, but the relationship of risky behaviors and inabiity to learn from many kinds of mistakes also typifies the pathology of sociopaths.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      I would say that this variation may survive because the persons having it are more persistent about getting sex.

      If it isn't improving your survivability it must be about sex. Otherwise it wouldn't survive for long.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sm62704 (957197)

        Sex trumps survivability most of the time. If an organism survives long enough to reproduce, its line carries on.

        I know some people who are dumber than boxes of rocks, but they have lots of kids. Even if all the kids don't survive, some do. One woman I know has fourteen kids, thirteen still alive. She beats me at the evolution game thirteen to two.

        That said, it seems our species' survival is about adaptability. The world is certainly different than it was even in my grandparents' age, let alone 50,000 years

  • Sadly... (Score:5, Funny)

    by g0dsp33d (849253) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:29PM (#24562681)
    After 25 years of research the leading scientist discovered he also had the gene.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We actually have a special set of receptors called legislons that determine if a molecule is illicit vs one approved by congress.

  • Illicit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by solweil (1168955) <humungus.ayatoll ... O@SPAMgmail.com.> on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:35PM (#24562711)
    Illicit does not necessarily mean self-destructive. It is a matter of law, not health.
    • Illicit does not necessarily mean self-destructive. It is a matter of law, not health.

      A matter of law is a matter of health for people who catch a disease while incarcerated.

    • Re:Illicit? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stevejsmith (614145) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @12:16AM (#24563881) Homepage
      Not to mention heroin overdoses. There is no such thing as an overdose - opiates are relatively non-lethal - especially for junkies, who would never be able to afford ten times their normal dose (the minimum it would likely take to kill someone) at prohibition-level prices. In reality, heroin "overdoses" are almost always a result of an addict taking the drug in combination with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or who knows what else, either voluntarily or involuntarily. But even the voluntary ones might not be so voluntary - addicts might substitute these other far more dangerous drugs because heroin is unavailable, not because they would take it as their first choice. Not to mention that even these deaths by combination of drugs are slow and can be easily reversed with a Naloxone pen. Do a Google search for "heroin overdose."
  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:36PM (#24562723) Homepage
    I know I fail to learn from my mistakes.

    I forget to take out the trash.

    I'm told about it.

    I forget again.

    What's my problem??
    • by gardyloo (512791)

      I know I fail to learn from my mistakes.

      I forget to take out the trash.

      I'm told about it.

      I forget again.

      What's my problem??

      Living with someone who tells you to take out the trash?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mortonda (5175)

      Having a newborn baby, which fills the trash with tons of vile stench, is a sure fire cure for forgetting to take out the trash. Trust me.

  • by nebaz (453974) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:37PM (#24562733)

    Why Bart Simpson kept trying to reach the electrified candy, while Lisa's hamster did not. The whole "bzzt...ow...bzzt...ow" sequence is stuck in my head.

  • by unfasten (1335957) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:40PM (#24562767)

    from the bzzt-ow-bzzt-ow-bzzzzzzzzzt-ooooooow dept.

    http://xkcd.com/242/ [xkcd.com]

  • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04&highpoint,edu> on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:41PM (#24562781)

    Sounds like ADD to me. I've got ADD and although I'm very intelligent, I haven't been an 'A' student since freshman year of high school. I can learn things well, but I continue the same behaviors that prevent me from succeeding, such as reading Slashdot (among other things) instead of doing homework.

    I took Adderall in school, which I believe stimulates dopamine and does indeed make it easier to do my homework. Also makes me test positive for meth, tell jokes that don't make sense to anyone but myself, and sleep 5 hours per night.

    I was going somewhere with this post, but as usual, I got distracted. Anyway, I hope this perspective can inform someone or at least make the other folks with ADD feel like they're not alone, even when so many people don't even think ADD is real.

    • by Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:48PM (#24562833)
      you just described my typical behaviour... but I've never been diagnosed with ADD, I just have a short... ooh a penny!
    • ...and sleep 5 hours per night.

      That's not the Adderall [xkcd.com].

    • by flonker (526111)

      I was never diagnosed with ADD, but I'm discovering as an adult that I do indeed have it. Are there any tips or behaviour changes that help to complete projects without taking medication?

      • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04&highpoint,edu> on Monday August 11, 2008 @10:20PM (#24563055)

        Give yourself structure. Make yourself a list of things you need to do every day. You could use paper, or be like me and get a $100 Palm Pilot. To me, mine is worth every penny. My list includes showering, walking the dog, getting haircuts, going to job interviews, getting my car inspected, paying my taxes, and pretty much every other thing I need to do.

        Other things are make sure your hygiene is good. Shower every day if you can. Get exercise. Ride your bike for half an hour every day, if possible. I've really taken a liking to cycling and it's helped to put my life in the right direction and help my lose lots of weight. Eat an egg for breakfast everyday; it'll make you feel good. Don't eat junk food.

        Keeping your body in shape helps you think more clearly, and the running theme is here that providing yourself with structure and goals is the best thing you can do for yourself this side of medication. I swear that giving myself some structure is the only reason I was able to graduate from college on time and the only way I'll succeed in making my career go somewhere and being the husband my wife deserves.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) *

        I was never diagnosed with ADD, but I'm discovering as an adult that I do indeed have it. Are there any tips or behaviour changes that help to complete projects without taking medication?

        Practice focusing on things. Take projects in small, defined chunks. Keep disciplining yourself to stay on task. Avoid working in environments with lots of distractions (i.e., lay off of Slashdot).

        I'm sure that there are more in depth studies around, although a quick Google search was actually disappointing. But the

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nomadic (141991)
      I've got ADD and although I'm very intelligent, I haven't been an 'A' student since freshman year of high school. I can learn things well, but I continue the same behaviors that prevent me from succeeding, such as reading Slashdot (among other things) instead of doing homework.

      I had the same problem, I've been a 'B' student my whole life. From elementary through high school, where a B wasn't good, to college, where a B was about average, to law school where a B is pretty damn good. I think there's prob
  • ...its just a glitch, we'll have this fixed in no time.
    *bang*!
  • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:44PM (#24562799) Journal

    So /. editors don't learn from publishing dupes? [slashdot.org]

    OK, maybe this isn't a dupe (diffrent researchers, maybe?), but I don't want to bring the groupthink's wrath down on me by RTFA.

  • by houbou (1097327) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:44PM (#24562801) Journal

    I'm not surprised anymore at articles such as this one. Our DNA is basically a blue print of who we are. Our limitations, strengths, etc...

    While we are also a product of our environment, it's interesting to see how as we move forward in the research of the human body and mind, many of our issues which we would have deemed "environmental", are actually genetic.

    So, the question is, can we fix this? And then, if we fix it, are we a different person? or just better? Is our individuality really based on our DNA? what does that make of the human soul? Not a religious person by nature, I do think there is a God, but, I believe that humanity has the right and the responsibility to learn as much of itself as possible, in order to survive and to improve as a species.

    To me, an interesting question that raises is about our soul, such as, is our individuality link to it? or not? Having read and seen documentaries that a person on their death bed loses weight as they migrate from life to death. Many believe that our "soul" has a quantitive weight.

    Who are we? If one could fix a learning disability by "re-wiring" our DNA, then, what's this "soul" thing to us?

    Could it be that really, our version of heaven is actually our ability to learn about ourselves to the point where we can engineer our own immortality?

    After all, for many, heaven is a blissful eternity of life after death. That's what many religions sell in their brochure :P (I said MANY, not all)

    Is our goal to achieve long life by understanding our DNA? is this really what our reward will be? our quest for immortality lies within our reach in research and understanding of ourselves and what makes us really tick? :)

    This thread may sound off beat to the topic at hand, but, I personally think it that there is a link.

    Being able to fix a person by DNA so that they can finally "learn" from their mistake, is a behavioral fix. Done using medical treatment. To me, this means that there could be a day where "Psychology" as we know it might actually end, and DNA fixes could actually be the cure to depression, etc...

    Cheers!

    • Rethinking religion (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jabbrwokk (1015725)
      I think your comment is right-on to the topic. This finding, if it bears out, kind of blows the whole "sin" doctrine right out of the water, doesn't it? If some people cannot help but repeat their mistakes, how can they ever be "saved" from sin?
      • I know it's tacky to reply to your own posts, but I wanted to add something here. According to the article:

        In about 30 percent, the coils of their DNA carry a glitch...

        One of the strongest and most counterintuitive findings in this nascent field is that children with a sweet temperament, which is under strong genetic control, are the least likely to emulate their parents and absorb the lessons they teach, while fussy kids are the most likely to do so.

        DNA variants can protect children from bad parenting.

        Both views--that everything is genetic and that parents can transform a child like a lump of clay--are as wrong as wrong can be.

        I think these finding have serious implications for how we look at religion, and how it can or cannot work effectively to shape people's behaviour from the time they are children to adults. Some people -- at least 30 per cent -- are hard-wired to find it difficult to deal with "sin" without feeling guilt, shame, failure and worthlessness. They will either end with serious psychological and spiritual h

    • Our DNA is basically a blue print of who we are.

      Wrong. Epic fail. DNA determines what we are, not who we are. Saying DNA determines what we are is like looking at a blueprint of an office building and trying to determine what type of business will operate there.

      So, the question is, can we fix this?

      Who said people are broken?

  • by srjh (1316705) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:45PM (#24562805)
    I always hit submit before
  • Epic fail (Score:3, Funny)

    by hack slash (1064002) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:45PM (#24562807)
    I wonder if this person learnt from his mistake...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZZXslsLDLs&fmt=18 [youtube.com]
  • Interesting... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    But essentially flambait: illicit drug use is not always a self-destructive behavior. Some people find it very fulfilling and regard it as beneficial.

  • We should implement this test for all citizens and immediately revoke all civil rights for everyone with this abnormality. This is the first case where people can be accurately defined as sub-human despite looking like one and being able to breed with one.
    Once we revoke their human rights we should have a popular vote on whether to sterilize them.

    • Once we revoke their human rights we should have a popular vote on whether to sterilize them.

      Naw, we just need to pack them up onto four giant sleeper ships towards Gantris VI...
      We can name them Reagan, Argo, Sarengo, and Nagglfar.

      • by Compuser (14899)

        I just googled for Gantris VI and it seems it is something out of some Starcraft, which may be either a book or a game. But either way, reading
        http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/United_Powers_League [wikia.com]
        it seems that in this universe "over 400 million people were eradicated".
        Now here in this reality, we are dealing with 30% of people, so ~1.8 billion. Just so you realize that reality has a way of outdoing imagination.

  • On the bright side (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xPsi (851544) * on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:56PM (#24562891)
    I'm guessing there are many perfectly productive and successful adults out there who also have this "defect." Like ADD and OCD, which can morph into powerful creative and focusing skills as positive adult byproducts, I'm betting this one can manifest itself as otherwise helpful traits such as "never giving up", "persistence in the face of resistance", etc. "Once bitten, twice shy" probably isn't a meaningful phrase for them and they likely wouldn't suffer from a host of ordinary hangups that stymie many adults (who learned from mistakes in an ordinary fashion).
  • off topic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Monday August 11, 2008 @09:57PM (#24562893) Journal

    There are several studies available on "the Google" where you can find that genetically, we as a species are bound to obey the genetic code we are born with, whether that is good or bad. This is just another example. You'll see in my journal that the MWNN regarding atheists. This supports the atheist understanding of the world. We are born as we are, mostly accidental, or luck of the draw regarding genetics. There is no deity responsible for this. What a reprehensible thought that an all powerful and all knowing deity would do this to people?

    As a hobby, I try to build small autonomous robots, and generally speaking most people believe that the human experience is the 100% value or perfect way of interacting with the world. What they forget, and what I like to call 'failure mode' is that we humans are anything but perfect: bad vision, autism, this story's problem, and many other failures. Ever bump into the wall in the dark? There is another failure.

    We are far from perfect, hardly worthy of being called a creation of an all powerful being. Destructive behavior is what we excel at. Brilliant design, eh?

    Back on topic: for the most part, we are finding genetic reasons for many problems with the human race. Even if they could all be corrected, I'm not sure it will improve our situation. I sometimes think that we are trying to save nature's discards. Amazing really. Apparently war fixes some of the overpopulation, or used to.

    The answer to such problems is fantastically unimaginable. How do you fix the discards and keep population withing the realms of what the planet can support? China has taken a step in that direction and it has caused unimaginable hardships for their population; selling babies, hiding from the government, fear of things that are only natural.

    So, what are we to do with things like this? What are we to do with people like this? Fix them, or abort them?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      There is no deity responsible for this. What a reprehensible thought that an all powerful and all knowing deity would do this to people?

      That doesn't seem too clear to me. It seems to disregard the possibility of an all-powerful deity who likes to keep things interesting. Maybe he likes to mix things up, keep us guessing. Maybe he likes to bring us down a notch now and then, and keep us humble. Or maybe all these "failures" aren't quite as defective as you like to think. None of us are capable of seeing all ends.

      A random off-topic possibly-offensive example: I know some people who have argued that genetic homosexuality would be a defec

  • Sure kiddo. The DNA made you do it.

  • I'm not saying this report is wrong, because I don't know enough to have an opinion. However, I can see what one of its results is going to be: teenagers claiming it's not their fault that they did the same dumb thing for the fourth time, it's the fault of their genetics and hence, their parent's fault. Just what we need: another way for kids to avoid taking responsibility.
  • It's interesting to find a brain mechanism for persistence versus adaptation, but not interesting to add an exaggerated normative claim. If at first you don't succeed, (1) Quit; (2) Try again; or (3) Split the difference and alter the plan. Different people favor different strategies. Pretty obvious and pretty benign, unless your objective is to get research funding "for the children".
  • Seriously, this is just about the perfect setup for a bout of good ol' eugenics. "Newsweek reports that ~30% of the population are defective subhumans!" Bring on the cheap and unreliable test-kits at every drugstore, and hysteria generally!
  • ... I know I make these all the time, when I send commands to the motor centers some of them never get there and some of my posts are truncated or the wrong message was sent, so I might say their instead of there, etc.

    Many errors are really the result of neurological issues and I wish more teachers would understand that.

    I still make unconscious errors, so I'd have to agree with the article.

  • Original article (Score:4, Informative)

    by DebateG (1001165) on Monday August 11, 2008 @10:10PM (#24562999)
    I would much rather read the original article [sciencemag.org] than an oversimplified Newsweek summary.
  • I don't care if daddy beat you or if you've got bad genes. be a douche and you should face the music.
  • by clovis (4684) * on Monday August 11, 2008 @10:14PM (#24563017)

    there would be nothing on YouTube but cats.

    Also, survival traits in some cases may benefit the species more than the indivdual - some of us are needed to find out what new things can or can't be done. Some of us are needed to hold the beer.

  • by LM741N (258038) on Monday August 11, 2008 @10:43PM (#24563217)

    George Bush syndrome.

    • by sm62704 (957197)

      I disagree. Bush hasn't made any mistakes. Sure, he fucked his country up REAL GOOD but he's an oil man - have you seen the price of gasoline lately? Sure, your civil rights and the constitution are in shambles - but he's power hungry.

      The man isn't stupid, as much as he would like you to think he is. You've heard of "Hanlon's razor", well I have my own. McGrew's razor is "never attribute to stupidity or incompetence that which can be adequately explained by greedy self interest."

      Bush isn't a fool, he's just

  • Hold on a minute... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Tuesday August 12, 2008 @04:52AM (#24565233)
    Every book on this area I've ever read says that the part of the brain that is responsible for cause/effect doesn't wire up properly until you're 18 and that's why teens/kids do dumb stuff. Has that one been thrown out as wrong now?

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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