Genetic variations impacting empathy tied to psych issues

March 12, 2018

(HealthDay)—Genetic variations associated with empathy play a role in psychiatric conditions and traits, including schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa, and extraversion, according to a study published online March 11 in Translational Psychiatry.

Varun Warrier, from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) of to date using the well-validated self-reported Empathy Quotient (EQ). Data were included for 46,861 research participants from 23andMe, Inc.

The researchers identified 11 suggestive loci (P < 1 × 10−6), although after correction for multiple testing, none were significant at P < 2.5 × 10−8. The most significant small nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), an intronic SNP in TMEM132C (rs4882760), was identified in the non-stratified analysis. A modest but significant narrow-sense heritability was found for the EQ. A significant female advantage on the EQ, predicted in earlier work, was confirmed. Between the sexes there was similar SNP heritability and high genetic correlation. There was also a significant negative genetic correlation between autism and EQ, as predicted. A significant positive genetic was identified between the EQ and risk for schizophrenia, risk for anorexia nervosa, and extraversion.

"This is the first GWAS of self-reported empathy. The results suggest that the genetic variations associated with empathy also play a role in and psychological traits," the authors write.

One author is an employee of 23andMe, Inc.

Explore further: Study finds that genes play a role in empathy

More information: Abstract/Full Text

Related Stories

Study finds that genes play a role in empathy

March 12, 2018
A new study published today suggests that how empathic we are is not just a result of our upbringing and experience but also partly a result of our genes.

For anorexia nervosa, researchers implicate genetic locus on chromosome 12

May 12, 2017
A landmark study led by UNC School of Medicine researchers has identified the first genetic locus for anorexia nervosa and has revealed that there may also be metabolic underpinnings to this potentially deadly illness.

Genes influence ability to read a person's mind from their eyes

June 7, 2017
Our DNA influences our ability to read a person's thoughts and emotions from looking at their eyes, suggests a new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Personality traits and psychiatric disorders linked to specific genomic locations

December 8, 2016
A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has identified six loci or regions of the human genome that are significantly linked to personality traits, report researchers at University of California San Diego ...

Anorexia nervosa has a genetic basis

June 12, 2017
A large-scale, international whole-genome analysis has now revealed for the first time that anorexia nervosa is associated with genetic anomalies on chromosome 12. This finding might lead to new, interdisciplinary approaches ...

Antisocial behavior may be highly polygenic

October 9, 2017
(HealthDay)—Antisocial behavior (ASB) may be highly polygenic, with sex-discordant associations identified for some loci, according to a study published online Oct. 4 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Recommended for you

Psychiatric disorders share an underlying genetic basis

June 21, 2018
Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder often run in families. In a new international collaboration, researchers explored the genetic connections between these and other disorders of the brain at ...

One year of school comes with an IQ bump, meta-analysis shows

June 21, 2018
A year of schooling leaves students with new knowledge, and it also equates with a small but noticeable increase to students' IQ, according to a systematic meta-analysis published in Psychological Science, a journal of the ...

Ketamine acts fast to treat depression and its effects last—but how?

June 21, 2018
In contrast to most antidepressant medications, which can take several weeks to reduce depressive symptoms, ketamine—a commonly used veterinary anesthetic—can lift a person out of a deep depression within minutes of its ...

New study debunks Dale Carnegie advice to 'put yourself in their shoes'

June 21, 2018
Putting yourself in someone else's shoes and relying on intuition or "gut instinct" isn't an accurate way to determine what they're thinking or feeling," say researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), the ...

Mindful movement may help lower stress, anxiety

June 21, 2018
Taking a walk may be a good opportunity to mentally review your to-do list, but using the time to instead be more mindful of your breathing and surroundings may help boost your wellbeing, according to researchers.

Brain tingles—first study of its kind reveals physiological benefits of ASMR

June 21, 2018
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) – the relaxing 'brain tingles' experienced by some people in response to specific triggers, such as whispering, tapping and slow hand movements – may have benefits for both ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.