This post is a bit outdated but I will try to update it soon.
Most of this research pertains to a specific gene known as the DRD4 gene, which encodes for variations of the dopamine D4 receptor. Luckily, I have been obsessed with this gene as of late, due to my fetish of creativity psychology.
This gene is linked to novelty-seeking, risk-taking, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD, and more interestingly, it is linked to migration. This is where ideas of migration and the potential involvement of chemical agents come in. This paper also proposes that certain variations of the DRD4 gene are privileged genes. The proposals made in this paper suggest we should invest our science research into exploring correlations between privilege and psychological traits. As a most radical end goal, we may hope to equalize privileges among all humans and even animals eventually (far future).
Eusociality, Intelligence, and Creativity
Curiosity and novelty-seeking could essentially be synonymous. Novelty-seeking is about finding new information, possibly for the sake of its utility, both socially, physically, psychologically, and much more. Knowledge is power, is a common phrase. We can define intelligence as individual knowledge acquisition and processing of knowledge. The clarification and importance of non-individual and knowledge-sharing based knowledge-acquisition will be explained shortly. Novelty-seeking leads to the development of creativity, which is in essence, utility of knowledge. Openness to experience correlates to creativity, and openness to experience has been shown to correlate to intelligence, but not based on any relation to ability, but instead, in relation to one’s desire to learn. I would claim that openness to experience, novelty-seeking, and curiosity are either very close to the same concept, or are synonymous. It is likely that each of these psychological terms have been defined differently within the field of research, but that they are all trying to describe fundamentally the same trait.
The information discovered via pattern recognition, such as correlations and predictions, is synthesized knowledge. Pattern recognition may be the primary form of cognitive creativity, forming connections between concepts and perceptions based on the overlap of similar information. For example yellow flowers and the yellow sun may form a recognized pattern, which is yellowness, and also the relationship between the flower and the sun, which is photosynthesis. One may generate from this a new hypothetical bit of knowledge, namely that the color yellow is correlated to photosynthesis, something that is not necessarily true, revealing the possibly risky and erroneous tendency that occurs in the higher level of creative thought, especially with insufficient levels of information to aide in the formation of better hypotheticals. Predictions are the hypotheticals that apply to recurring events of formerly recognized patterns. When a familiar and already recognized event occurs, we predict the associated patterns will also recur along with it.
From my theory of creativity, an explanation of how pattern recognition emerges as a byproduct of novelty-seeking and memory:
Emergence Of Pattern Recognition
Exposure to the familiar leads to relatively detail-oriented cognition. Exploring is the concept of finding new observations, thoughts, and knowledge. It is a behavioral result of novelty-seeking. Imagine that you are taking a path to some destination, A. You can take the same path every time for efficiency. Due to repeated exposure, you will slowly memorize the lesser noticed details of this path (detail-oriented thinking). With this scenario, the path becomes learned and environmental consciousness slowly fades out for automated/habituated navigation. While in this automatic mode, consciousness may rest or act leisurely and freely, essentially only giving attention to the critically important aspects of the task. This is why we dissociate when driving our commutes often times.
Exposure to the novel leads to pattern-oriented cognition. Now imagine that you took a novel path to reach destination A each time instead. You could not stay in this automated/habituated state because you have not yet determined how to navigate it mindlessly. Your consciousness would need to focus on being present and aware of the novel path, in order to learn and form automations. You would not have exposure to the details of the same path each time, by definition, as you are exploring novel paths. Though, novel paths are not entirely novel in every minute detail, that would be unrealistic. You would tend to find repeating details among novel paths, and the repetition of these details would form into a different kind of memory. This other form of memory would be generalized into patterns or archetypes of paths, rather than specific paths in their defining detail, because you are not repeating specific paths. By not reinforcing the memory of the details that essentially distinguish paths from each other, you would find that the memory for the details would be poor, while memory of overlapping details among paths is reinforced. This is the basis for pattern recognition, and explains why it should emerge from novelty-seeking. This means that pattern recognition is not necessarily a special inherent physiological trait, but moreso a byproduct of exploration, driven by novelty-seeking. This exploration is of any medium: problem-solving, thinking, talking, driving; generalized exploration.
IQ appears to measure both intelligence and creativity. Creativity and intelligence differ and so I will define these as clearly as I can. Creativity is a byproduct of increased observations, both within short term memory (as in analyzing the moment, i.e. working memory utility and sensory-processing correlations), and also within long term memory (as in analyzing memories and thoughts to form new ideas or epiphanies i.e. synthetic thought, memory/informational correlations, predictions and hypotheses).
Emergence Of Creativity
Consider a hypothetical where the typical human capacity of short-term memory is 10 ideas. Imagine that most of society trains humans via the education system and social norms to live by the 10 idea limitation to prevent working memory disorder. The ideas developed by the people using 10 idea limitations would have been mostly thoroughly explored, meaning most people adhering to this limitation would have roughly similar ideas and with time, novel ideas will become increasingly rare. This is primarily because there are more people thinking within this limitation. Now imagine that you decide to bypass the limitation and explore concepts that are 30 ideas deep. You will face significant error and working memory disorder by going beyond your capacity, losing train of thought, and other issues, but this is where novel ideas are more common, as it is more or less unexplored territory, due to the societal norms.
Thought disorders are linked to ADHD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, all of which are linked to creativity and short-term memory dysfunction that is linked to the novelty-seeking gene, DRD4. Many of the thought disorders on Wikipedia hint at this effect. For example, tangential thought is when you explored enough ideas deep that you are forming novel ideas that are hard for others to easily see the relevance and since you bypassed your short-term memory limit, you may be unable to remember and thus fail to properly explain the idea coherently. Other thought disorders are easy to explain under this concept, such as flight of ideas and derailment. Other thought disorders may be coping strategies and creative utilization of abstraction to compensate for the short-term memory limitations, in the case of perseveration, echolalia, and clanging. There are serious issues that may occur when one explores novel thoughts too consistently, as explored in depth in my post, Abstraction.
Intelligence is the individual ability to observe and acquire knowledge more accurately. It is possible to reach a higher state of creativity, even with lower intelligence and not reach higher creativity with higher intelligence, as is possible with chimps. Observing accurately might help reach a state of creativity, which is essentially utility of learning, or utility of observation and memory. Lower intelligence can result in higher creativity, when it is paired with knowledge-sharing.
Knowledge-Sharing and Knowledge-Acquisition
To give an example of the benefit that knowledge-sharing has towards developing creativity, consider a hypothetical where an individual human is capable of acquiring 10 bits of information from their environment, using their senses and also their cognition to process and manipulate the information to form synthesized information. Now consider this example: a chimp might be capable of acquiring 30 bits of information from their environment, due to better senses, and having an increased capacity to process information. If the human socializes their learnings among 10 others, they will likely acquire more than 30 bits of information, while the chimp is still limited to 30. There would almost certainly be an overlap of knowledge within the humans, so it wouldn’t be that 3 humans summate a total of 30 bits, we must account for overlap here. Now consider that creativity is just the utility that expansive knowledge has, and that the level of creativity is determined by the quantity of information bits. So a chimp is still limited to 30 bits, a knowledge capacity which is essentially limited to their senses and individual cognition. Consider that humans have shared environmental knowledge for at least many thousands of years.
Humans have philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists, of which do not overlap too greatly in their understandings of deeper knowledge, and so imagine that each chimp might have found non-overlapping information like the humans have, but they do not have the tendency to share knowledge as greatly. It’s also worth noting that the quality of information gained via knowledge-sharing would be reduced due to abstraction (which is necessary or useful for knowledge-sharing) and miscommunication.
I’ve written a post on how abstraction would result in fallacious thinking and error, with the benefit of communicability of ideas. The more that knowledge-sharing becomes our primary method of knowledge-acquisition, we can expect the norms of thinking to be trained by these errors in abstraction, fallacious tendencies, and miscommunications. In this sense, chimps may have more rational thinking and qualitative knowledge acquisition abilities when compared to humans, which is exactly what we see in some cognitive tests comparing chimps with human children. On the other hand, humans clearly have more quantitative knowledge-acquisition abilities, because they can combine their knowledge. We might even be devolving.
I have not seen tests comparing adults and humans, though the training effects our society may have and the creativity gained by the time of adulthood might have more utility than intelligence. I would like to see further study here.
Socializing of intelligence allows us to learn others’ observations and then continue to expand from a collection or library of observations made by others. We must realize that observing more accurately and sharing of observations can both result in highly knowledgeable states, but that sharing of information is clearly lower quality and this is why we must engage in science, but science also takes us further than what a chimp could realize on its own because it utilizes socialized knowledge from centuries of human advances passed down to each generation, in the form of books and advanced technology.
Like ants, this behavior of humans should be recognized as eusociality. This can be defined as the state in which a group of beings’ communication reaches a level where functionality becomes less centered around the individual and more geared towards the group of beings as a whole. In some sense, this is hiveminding. This would theoretically deprioritize the functionality of the individuals, as their utility can become more specialized. The benefits that eusociality has towards society and technological development is far greater than intelligence, which is exemplified by the knowledge-sharing, knowledge-acquisition, thought experiment shown above, and also eusocial ant societies. Ant societies have technically become more developed than chimp societies, and include agriculture and highly specified social roles. In humans, some of these social roles are determined by the societal structure and social norms, but there are also genetic components as seen with ants.
Ant eusociality is not entirely similar to humans by mechanism, specifically due to the different reproductive nature that ants have compared to humans. This does not change the end result of the eusociality, being the different and consistent archetypes that show up in both humans and ants. For example, schizophrenics, bipolars, and ADHD individuals who have more creativity-oriented genes may serve a role for exploration, both in knowledge and environment, as well as technological advancement of our species, but due to the risks of self-destructing technology and dangerous consequences of exploration, the genes for making progress may be relatively rarer than security-seeking genes, which protect the status quo, which is assumed to be stagnant and safe until environmental changes occur, such as climate, which we will explore later in later sections.
The chimps’ self-dependency has been shown in the above experiments of problem-solving, where chimps surpass human reasonability while humans act obediently, dogmatically enacting the shared solution to the puzzle. This dependency on knowledge-sharing would likely neglect self-dependent intelligence and result in lowered intelligence over generations in favor of eusocial intelligence. This effect is similar to how cave animals tend to evolve blindness and transition to focusing on other senses, like hearing. It is possible, or even likely that the human species is becoming intellectually blind and transitioning towards knowledge-sharing as its primary intellectual tendency. The decreased working memory seen in the novelty-seeking gene might more easily succeed in privileged environments due to increased interdependency of human civilization. Our current education systems may promote this trend towards eusociality and neglect individual intellectual abilities.
Cognitive Cave vs The Flynn Effect
We can use a metaphor: There are two kinds of cognition, software and hardware cognition.
Software cognition is the cognition you aren’t born with. Our biology likely molds to create software cognition, but it is adaptations that result from a combination of memory and experience. More vast and numerous experiences should correlate with increasing cognitive software. The Flynn effect deals with software cognition, which is self evident because you are talking about differences in environment producing differences in cognition. The exception may be nutrition, which is not really a factor in software cognition.
Hardware cognition is the cognition you are born with. It is essentially the biological limitations of our cognition. Working memory, perception, and the limitations of development that our cognition has would be factors in hardware cognition.
The cognitive cave essentially explains that we outsource certain cognitive tasks which causes us to depend less on our own cognitive functions and more on our technology. An evolutionary trend of decreasing cognitive hardware would be expected, much like how animals living in a dark cave may slowly experience the genetic extinction of genes related to vision. I claim that humans would experience a decline in hardware capacity because they outsource cognition. On the other hand, IQ would probably increase based on experience variety and stimulation via problems to solve. The cognitive cave would more refer to baseline cognitive capacity, where it may be decreased as we trade it off for software and technological dependency. Pattern recognition would be a form of software cognition, as shown with my emergence of pattern recognition thought experiment. There are likely more traits than just pattern recognition that are associated with software cognition.
The Flynn effect deals with cognitive software that is a product of experience while the cognitive cave describes a declining hardware functioning that determines maximum intellectual capacity.
My claim is that chimps retain their hardware capacity while being severely deficient in software. In essence, an extreme form of the Flynn effect.
The DRD4 gene variation would heavily promote software development via the trait of experience seeking, but the existence of the traits linked to the DRD4 gene variation are not inherently necessary for software development. Experience itself is necessary, and this gene seems to simply produce a difference in comfort or desire to explore experience. Experiences can be forced upon one due to environmental circumstance. Again, I would assert that IQ heavily measures experience dependent cognition, which is explainable by the Flynn effect.
The DRD4 gene variation is correlated to working memory disorders, and working memory is heavily correlated to reasoning ability, and in some studies is claimed to essentially be synonymous. The DRD4 gene variation would expand our software at the cost of reasoning ability.
We may store rationalizations in long term memory and slowly build upon them through our exploration of ideas and from experience. It is clear that humans have access to diverse experiences that no other creature has, and much of these experiences are behind the wall of language capacity.
Furthermore, as shown below, language is not necessarily based on intelligence. These two concepts should be dissociated.
Humans primarily network their intelligence via the medium of language. Language is arguably not necessarily based on intelligence. The most clear example of this is with William’s syndrome, where the individual’s often face significant cognitive difficulties while their language abilities remain in tact. This is used to make a case that language is not necessarily connected to intelligence.
Risky genes can reproduce if they survive to reproduce.
This brings us to the next concept,
The Privileged Gene
Survival is a privilege, especially in regards to risk-takers and novelty-seekers.
Cognitive ease is privilege. Veritasium explains cognitive ease in relation to creativity.
Risk-taking as a decision-making trait comes down to how badly you want a reward compared to what costs you are willing to pay. Reward and cost are related to positive and negative reinforcement as well as positive and negative punishment, where cost can be defined as loss, punishment, or negative stimuli, while reward can be defined as positive stimuli, or desired stimuli. Risk is defined as the potential for reward and cost both, where it may be undetermined whether a reward or cost will be met, and undetermined whether the reward is worth the cost or if potential undetermined consequences might occur from a decision.
Costs are relative to each individual, where those with lower socioeconomic status would experience a larger ratio of cost:benefit when compared with those with a higher socioeconomic status paying a seemingly similar cost. For example, 10$ for someone with 100$ is 10% of their economic value, and 10$ for someone with 1000$ is only 1% of their total economic value. So the less wealthy individual with 100$ to their name loses 10x more than the more wealthy individual with 1000$ for the similar cost of 10$. At face value, it appears that both individuals are paying the same cost: 10$. But when explored further, the context for which this 10$ cost resides is different, by a factor of 10x. The context is part of the total equation for decision-making, and so those who have 10% cost-potential will be more cautious than those who have 1% cost-potential, perhaps even by an amount that is proportional to the difference in context, so in this case a 10x more willingness to take the risk might exist in the wealthy individual. That is, if the relationship between cost:benefit ratios and willingness were linear and had no other factors at play.
Novelty-seeking and polymorphisms of the DRD4 gene were found to be correlated to subjects with higher educated mothers, a higher annual household income, and living in an urban residential setting. The correlation to privilege, novelty-seeking and the genes could mean that the level of risk among novelty-seekers in wealth, means less risk is necessary to be a novelty-seeker. I suspect that those with higher socio-economic status might pressure their children into novel experiences and train them to be novelty-seekers, rather than the genes controlling for this.
The novelty-seeking gene has been shown to correct IQ scores among those with externalizing behaviors, which are typically shown to have a negative correlation to IQ. Externalizing behavior, is defined as behavior such as aggression, disobedience, cheating and other immoral behaviors. This type of behavior seems to indicate risk-taking on some level, where the individual may not fear the punishment enough to inhibit behavior. The study linked found that the negative correlation that externalizing behavior has with IQ was attenuated in those with the novelty-seeking gene. The mechanism of the gene suggested by the researchers is to correct or handle larger amounts of dopamine. Dopamine release is increased in the prefrontal cortex during novelty, and so it may be the function of this novelty-seeking gene to reduce the overload caused by novelty, as increased dopamine is also associated to externalizing behavior.
The difference in IQ seen among races is more than likely mostly a difference in creativity and curiosity that is a byproduct of privilege. I’ve made the case that negative experiences would decrease openness and limit knowledge seeking here. It would make sense that lower privilege would lead to more negative experiences and trauma as well, reducing future risk-taking and exploration. An environment that is rapidly changing might favor the selection of the creativity and curiosity gene.
As previously explained, intelligence is the ability to acquire and process knowledge from the environment directly. This is in contrast to knowledge-sharing, which allows you to acquire less accurate and more abstracted knowledge from other communicating beings. The difference in IQ seen with humans and chimps is likely partially due to privilege as well, but also chimps might be more biologically intelligent, due to less intellectual dependency on knowledge-sharing.
The Flynn Effect is an observed pattern of increasing IQ that has been occurring since we started recording it. The Flynn effect could be explained as a difference in privilege where the more privileged would score higher in IQ. Chimps likely have a hard limit on creativity due to the limitations of knowledge collection. Chimps might be different than humans because of the lack of knowledge-sharing and privilege gained by eusocial support systems. If chimps are more intelligent than humans, it is likely that the privilege difference is extreme enough to produce a much larger difference in IQ scores. The difference of IQ scores among humans/races is smaller and we likely have roughly the same intelligence.
Learning is a privilege.
Security is a privilege.
Social support is a privilege.
Access to exploratory resources is a privilege.
Is this starting to look familiar to anyone?
I’d like to add novelty and exploration to the top of the privilege pyramid as well.
Privilege is the spectrum on which we measure the ratio of cost:benefit in this contextual and environmentally relative way. Those with higher privilege will face less costs, and thus be permitted to take more risks. Wealth is often circumstantial and born-in. This means the risk-taking of wealthy individuals would be seemingly greater (taking bigger risks), although the reality is that the risk a wealthy person takes is much less than the risk a less wealthy person takes. Risks also depend on social security, where those with greater social support may seek out larger rewards and pay less costs. This safety net is one reason eusociality would evolve. This is also why the child-parent dynamic might exist, as having a guardian is an immense social aide, and this is the very function and purpose of the parental role. Consider that parenting tactics may be highly socialized as well, and that privilege can determine quality of parenting. Quality and quantity of knowledge would lead to more accurate and beneficial parenting, in essence people with knowledge can find better parenting strategies, which is a creative task. The gene has been correlated to privileged status and this paper rationalizes evolution of this gene with similar themes to this article.
The Curiosity Prisons Of Eden
The privilege problem begins much earlier than you might have expected.
The homeland of humanity is bound to retain those who favor staying in the safety of home (not necessarily by choice, but also by necessity of circumstance), while non-indigenous human habitats would likely have genes centered on exploration, novelty-seeking, and risk-taking. The history of human migration is thought to involve travel out of Africa, mostly individuals with the novelty-seeking gene. This post here is, as far as I can tell, the most updated migration story.
Migration (to novel regions) is correlated to the novelty-seeking gene, and in essence the curiosity gene. The 7R and 2R polymorphisms were correlated to the migration, and in the previous study, the 2R was shown to correlate to privilege. This gene’s prevalence is 48% in America, and only 2% in Asia (I’ve later discovered that there is a functionally equivalent 2R polymorphism that is more common in Asia). Openness to experience is relevant to both risk-taking and novelty-seeking. Crystallized intelligence, a form of intelligence based on gaining knowledge via experience and knowledge-sharing (essentially education) is associated to openness to experience. This makes sense, as it essentially means that curiosity and novel-knowledge-seeking leads to a larger collection of knowledge acquired and thus the utility of acquired knowledge (crystallized intelligence) increases as well.
Predation is expected to inhibit risk-taking behavior, or at the very least lowers the safety and privilege provided by an environment which makes the risks to take, much higher, and the gene for risk-taking would likely not produce, or even epigenetically be removed. Predation should then promote security-seeking as well, by lowering the chance of risk-takers’ survival and therefore reproduction. This is not only predators, but environment in general, where safe environments should promote the success of less safe genes, and unsafe environments would disrupt demote the success of less safe genes. This means we should expect that the genes for risk-taking would occur in higher frequency in safer and more privileged environments. As an example of an unsafe condition being more protected and able to reproduce in more privileged and secure environments, look at how someone with a major disease now may have access to medicine or support that less privileged may not have access to.
In contrast to the privileged selection for the DRD4 7R, researchers have made a different claim. It is thought that resource-depleted, time-critical, or rapidly changing environments might select for individuals with the 7R polymorphism of the novelty-seeking gene, whereas resource-rich, time-optimal, or little-changing environments might select against the 7R form of the gene. In this model, it may be that there is accelerated adaption to the environment that allows one to face a constantly changing lifestyle, ie migration. In environments that are stable, the accelerated adaptivity may result in ADHD symptoms, depression, or other issues due to the lifestyle becoming mundane and familiar too quickly.
I’ve also made a case that those with the 7R polymorphism would be likely to be rejected by tribes and outcast due to their tendency towards exploration and deviation from those who don’t explore as much. Read that here. It could be that the initial tribes forced a subset of problematic humans to migrate out. Somewhat similar to how America was colonized, where many rejects of other countries, such as Ireland, would be sent here, which interestingly America has the largest population of DRD4 7R carriers, so it seems to be a case of history repeating itself again.
Novelty-seeking has lead our species to face problems with climate change that is a byproduct of creative technologies, and it was unknown that these consequences would occur at first. Acting without knowledge is risky. This returns to the concept of exploring the unknown and exemplifies a risk of doing so. It may be that we solve climate change issues via further exploration and more new technologies, and so risk taking does provide a form of safety in some sense as well. The idea here is that avoiding novelty in environments that are already safe, provides a possibility of negative consequence that disrupts the safety that was previous. This is how we come to the common statement, “if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it”. Risk-taking provides safety when the environment is changing, because exploration (physical and mental) is necessary to adapt to change.
It’s worth checking out my post where I posit that chimpanzees may be more intelligent than humans, but less social. There is strong evidence they lack the novelty-seeking gene, while dogs have been bred to have such genes, which relate to asking humans questions, an act of curiosity, while chimps can learn language and outperform us on cognitive tasks. Dogs also perform worse than wolves on cognitive tasks. There are also video of humans acting equally as silly on puzzles, while chimps act more rational, like the wolves.
Now, here is my crazy daisy-chain logic for why privilege is linked to migration. Elon Musk is bipolar, and almost certainly has this DRD4 gene. Elon Musk has major plans to reach and inhabit Mars. Colonizing Mars is really just the next major migration for humanity. To us, in this relative context, it makes sense to us that only the most privileged would be able to reach Mars, at least at first. This is because you must have access to high amounts of resources to safely venture off into the more difficult environments. What if this gene is highly capitalistic? It is in fact linked to sociopathy as well, which is known to occur more frequently in CEOs. But what is critical is that those who take the largest strides in our world, the kind that allow us to leave behind our world will inevitably be those with the novelty-seeking trait combined with the highest status, the highest privileges. It could be that the longer the gene has migrated, the more privileged it becomes.
Another possibility is that this gene tends to favor exploitative behavior, or at least in the scenario of sociopaths. It is possible that the gene influences tolerance to rewards and causes one to seek more and more, a sort of capitalist gene. It may be that the gene causes one to seek privilege, even at the expense of other’s loss.
The Fruit From The Tree Of Knowledge
This section is a bit more silly and hypothetical, but the concept is very feasible and fits within both the science, as well as the biblical references. It is possible that there are epigenetic factors that activate the novelty-seeking gene. For example, it may be the case that an environment that registers as safe, by the mechanism of low dysphoria and low stress, might upregulate the novelty-seeking gene, or the receptor at the very least. The fact that this gene is thought to be a response to rapidly changing environment hints that it may be able to activate epigenetically, as to speed up adaptation to the environment even more. I have proposed that privilege may promote the selection of this gene by protecting against the risks associated to novelty-seeking/risk-taking. There are two alleles of this gene associated to novelty-seeking. It could be that one tends to respond to rapid environmental change, while the other tends to be a response to privilege, or more likely that both genes are selected during privilege, while the 7R allele is favored during environmental changes, as indicated by this study.
Drugs are often used to manage feelings of stress and dysphoria and may produce an artificial simulation of privilege. It is known that those with the novelty-seeking gene are more prone to addiction, but it may be also that taking a drug and reaching a state of addiction leads one to have altered genes that typically activate under environmental circumstances of safety. Opioid dependency is linked to the novelty-seeking gene. Cannabis use is linked to the same gene.
Another hypothesis is that psychedelics may alter genetics in favor of the novelty-seeking trait. Psychedelics have been found to increase openness to experience. It is known that psychedelics can reduce fear in general, PTSD, fear of homosexuality (lol), and even fear of death as well. They have been proposed to treat addiction, which may often have to do with fear, or negative stimuli generally, and more specifically, dynorphin the aversion hormone. They have been thought to invoke suicide, similarly to SSRI drugs, which both have serotonergic mechanisms (this is explained in depth in this post). Presumably this is further evidence that they reduce the fear of death. Psychedelics have been known to permanently increase the trait of openness, which has been linked, but only somewhat, to the novelty-seeking gene.
If this is the case, I would suggest that psychedelics emulate the subjective experience of a radical shift of environment, an experience of intense novelty, and awe, and that this experience leads to a reorientation of personality towards adaptive psychological traits, enhancing problem-solving, pattern-recognition and other traits that are suitable for rapidly changing environments. I suspect this effect of psychedelics also involves the DRD2 gene though, which encodes for the dopamine 2 receptors. This receptor is seen to be downregulated in addicts and seems to have relevance to novelty-seeking and harm avoidance. The paper linked noted that those high in novelty-seeking are low in harm avoidance, which makes sense for the fear reduction/suicide hypothesis for psychedelics, as well as providing evidence that D2 receptor regulation might be involved in the long-term changes caused by psychedelics.
In regards to addiction, those with the novelty-seeking gene, DRD4, may have the tendency towards more rapid exploration of their environment and tend to end up in a state similar to addicts, after running out of stimuli to explore (boredom). The novelty-seeking gene may operate by inducing discomfort with stimuli tolerance, so once an environment has become familiar, restlessness and discomfort may occur in order to inspire further seeking of novelty as to prevent discomfort. In anecdotal cases, psychedelics are thought to treat addiction rapidly after only a single use, possibly indicating it could upregulate DRD2 which likely function in tandem, as evidenced by the D2 receptor and D4 receptor heteromers that exist. The D2 receptor also forms heteromers with 5HT2a receptors, the primary binding target of psychedelic drugs. This reveals a possible mechanism for the long-term personality changes that psychedelics induce, such as openness to experience (which is also linked to the DRD2 gene), abolishment of addiction, and enhanced creativity.
The fact that mental illness correlates to the DRD4 novelty-seeking gene may indicate that individuals with these genes may have been placed in environments in which their genes are not favorable in regards to their environment. This may be why the DRD4 correlated condition, schizophrenia, is found in the very unnatural environments more frequently, such as cities like California, as these places are the apex of human progress and societal change. Silicon Valley is a great example of this. This may explain why microdosing has become a fad in Silicon Valley as well, as a means to induce adaptability artificially to cope with the extreme environment. The most highly technological and futurist locations will inevitably not have allowed for humans to yet evolve in response. It could be that the mental disorders such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia involve mechanisms that utilize endogenous DMT, to induce more rapid acclimation to radical environments.
These ideas have been explored in further depth in my DMT hypothesis of bipolar disorder, a condition that been associated to the novelty-seeking gene and many of the traits associated to it.
Novelty-seeking and polymorphisms of the gene that aren’t typically associated to novelty-seeking were found to be correlated to subjects with higher educated mothers, a higher annual household income, and living in an urban residential setting. Though, there was no correlation found between the specific polymorphism associated to ADHD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia and socio-economic status. This study suggests that novelty-seeking may be a trait of status itself, something I do think may be the case. The correlation to privilege, novelty-seeking and the genes could mean that the level of risk among novelty-seekers in wealth, means less risk is necessary to be a novelty-seeker. I suspect that those with higher socio-economic status might pressure their children into novel experiences and train them to be novelty-seekers, rather than the genes controlling for this. Another factor is that the wealthier people face less negative consequences and thus haven’t had the sort of experiences that teach us to inhibit ourselves.
Migration (to novel regions) is correlated to the novelty-seeking gene, and in essence the curiosity gene. The 7R and 2R polymorphisms were correlated to the migration, and in the previous study, the 2R was shown to correlate to privilege. I suspect this could be the difference of privilege based novelty-seeking and environmental-change based novelty-seeking. It is thought that resource-depleted, time-critical, or rapidly changing environments might select for individuals with the 7R polymorphism of the novelty-seeking gene, whereas resource-rich, time-optimal, or little-changing environments might select against the 7R form of the gene. It could be that both forms of novelty-seekers would do well in the novel environments (migration), but that the 7R form would exist more under environmental pressure, while the 2R might exist more in privileged environments.
Another paper claims that there is no direct correlation between novelty-seeking and DRD4 polymorphisms. I would claim that the gene might be related to general reward-seeking instead, where novelty is simply one medium of reward, and that the 7R polymorphism aides in coping with the consequences that novelty-seeking may have, by modulating short-term memory and dopamine activity. This would explain the association to drug use and possibly to parenting and attachment. The gene may also be more related to risk-taking, which may be very similar to reward-seeking, possibly the same factor. Reward may include the solving a puzzle, gaining knowledge, gaining power, gaining privileges, drugs, food, and novelty. This would imply that it is more generalized than novelty-seeking.
The relationship the gene has to parenting may be based on responsiveness to aversion or training. Perhaps if it is a reward related gene, then it is implicated in the obedience or disobedience on the level of reward-training or aversion-training. Punishment could be less effective, and perhaps the benefit is if parenting is too harsh, the child will not become excessively inhibited and closed off. This inhibition concept may also be why it relates to extroversion as well. Bullying or negative social interaction may not phase those with the specific polymorphisms associated. This may also extend to training in school, where training of one’s short-term memory may fail to occur, but allowing creativity to emerge instead as a result.
Responsiveness to negative stimuli might be more frequent in novel environments, such as with migration or rapidly changing environments, and so it would be beneficial to reduce learning of negative stimuli, as this might provoke familiarity-seeking and familiarity or comfort might not be available. The mis-behavioral effects and risk-taking increase associated with the genes might be unfavored in more dangerous environments where risk-taking is more likely to result in negative consequences, and so genes that favor harm-avoidance might be preferred. The DRD4 7R polymorphism has been associated to both risk-taking and harm avoidance, where the link to harm avoidance also involved genes for the serotonin transporter as well. Serotonin has been linked to harm avoidance in the past, suggesting that the DRD4 gene may not modulate risk-taking by reducing harm-avoidance but by increasing reward-seeking. Another possibility is that it modulates reward tolerance somehow, which I could see leading to novelty-seeking and drug addiction.
It is possible that this gene has utility when all novelty has been familiarized within an environment and when security has been achieved, and thus allow for exploration, creativity, problem-solving, and art. It is also likely that the gene has utility when an environment is changing, to allow for a different mentality that copes better with exploration. Perhaps the privileged have the oppurtunity to explore novelty and riskier things, while those in rapidly changing environment are forced into novelty, and the genes are relevant to both.
As a farewell note. . .
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