Photographic memory is a rare and mysterious cognitive ability that allows people to remember images and objects in detail.
It’s a rare phenomenon in which someone can retain an enormous quantity of information, whether it be images, sounds, or words.
Photographic memory was first documented by a Harvard vision scientist named Charles Stromeyer III in early 1970 about a student named Elizabeth.
Some believe that photographic memory is a real phenomenon, while others believe it’s just an exaggeration or myth.
Regardless of whether photographic memory is real or not, there are many benefits to having it.
Why do we remember some things more distinctly than others? And why do some memories fade?
Answering these questions requires us to look into how memories are formed in the first place.
Our daily experiences are converted into pulses of energy that travel along the neuron network and form short-term memories first.
These are available for a few seconds or a few minutes.
They then get converted into long-term memories through certain brain areas like the hippocampus.
Finally, they reach the storage regions present in the brain.
With the help of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, neurons communicate with each other in regions called synapses.
Continuous communication between two neurons increases the efficiency, a process described as long-term potentiation.
This phenomenon helps store long-term memory.
Image: The differences between short-term and long-term memories (Adapted from an article on harvard.edu)
Why do some memories get lost?
As we age, the synapses become weak, making it difficult to retrieve information.
According to studies, the hippocampus loses 5% of its neurons every decade after age 40, resulting in a 20% loss by 80 years.
There may also be a loss of neurotransmitters.
Other mental and physical health conditions associated with aging can also be the reason memories get lost.
Chronic stress is another major contributor to memory issues.
The body releases a surge of hormones to enable us to wave through stressful situations.
However, with chronic stress, the body is continually exposed to this flood of hormones.
This may result in the loss of brain cells and block the formation of new ones, making it difficult to retain information.
Depression is another condition associated with memory problems.
The low levels of serotonin seen in individuals with depression can make it difficult for a person to pay attention to new information.
People with depression may be 40% more likely to develop memory and cognition-associated problems.
The common impression of photographic memory is that some people can take a mental snapshot of whatever is in front of them and retrieve it from memory, zooming in and out of various parts.
However, the true existence of photographic memory has not been proven till now.
What people mostly refer to as photographic memory is, in fact, eidetic memory.
Eidetic memory is “the ability to recall an image from memory with high precision for a brief period after seeing it only once, and without using a mnemonic device.”
This memory lasts less than one second is most people and a few seconds for others.
But, some people indeed have an extraordinary memory.
For instance, Stephen Wiltshire, a British architectural artist, flew over New York for 20 minutes and drew the entire skyline only from the memory of that sight.
Another example would be that of Jill Price, a woman now in her mid-50s, who can remember in great detail almost every aspect of her life from about 14 years of age.
She was the first to be diagnosed with hyperthymesia, also called highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM), which allows people to remember almost all life events with great precision.
While such sporadic cases of people with extraordinary memory have been recorded, there’s been no case of photographic memory till now.
Both nature and nurture contribute to incredible recall skills.
On the natural side of things, some people seemed to be predisposed to having an incredible memory.
In a neuroscience study, it was found that people with HSAM have enlarged temporal and parietal lobes, both of which are associated with memory storage and retrieval.
With regards to genetics, studies have shown that dopamine receptor genes play an important role in episodic memory
*Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked with learning and memory
*Episodic memory is the ability to recall and mentally re-experience specific episodes from one's past.
People with certain changes in these genes may have a stronger recall power than others.
A 2015 study identified over 750 genes that can influence long-term memory
The newly found genes activate a molecule known as CREB (cAMP-response element-binding protein).
CREB is required for long-term memory in many organisms, including worms and mice.
There is a direct relationship between CREB and long-term memory; many organisms lose CREB as they age.
This way, many genes work together and influence how our memories and stored and recalled.
The “genetically advantaged” people receive a set of genes optimized for a great memory and recall powers.
However, this doesn’t imply that having a particular gene will give you great memories.
Memories also depend on other lifestyle and environmental factors like diet and educational attainment.
While anyone can develop depression, some people are more likely to develop this condition due to the risk factors.
There is no single cause of depression, but several factors contribute to its development.
Common risk factors include:
Depression is found to be more common among women than men.
However, as illustrated above, it doesn’t mean that only women are affected by depression.
Though less common, the consequences of depression are much more severe in men.
Having a first-degree relative with depression may increase your risk of developing the condition.
Twin, adoption, and family studies state that depression has a strong genetic component.
However, how depression genes are passed to the next generation is still unclear.
Sudden changes in life, such as the death or loss of a loved one, the birth of a child, job loss, retirement, etc., may trigger depression in some people.
Changes in your physical health may impact your mental health.
People struggling with other long-term illnesses like HIV, cancer, chronic liver disease, etc., may develop depression.
People with existing mental health conditions like anxiety are also at a higher risk of depression.
Experiencing mental, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or trauma may trigger depression.
Around 30% of people who abuse alcohol or drugs have depression.
Depression is in your genes and runs in families.
Children of parents with depression have a high risk of developing the condition.
Though genetics plays an important role, their role is only partial.
40% of depression risk is influenced by genetics, while the rest is due to environmental factors.
Depression occurs due to a complex interplay between genes and the environment, but researchers have not been able to find a single ‘depression gene.’
Genomewide association studies (GWAS) are currently underway to study depression.
Epigenetics, or the study of how and why some genetic codes are expressed as physical or emotional traits, is critical in understanding conditions like depression.
There is no doubt that depression and depressive traits run in families.
A study published in December 2016 found that a child is 70% more likely to develop emotional or behavioral problems if the father shows signs of depression.
This risk is higher if the mother is depressed.
11% of kids are depressed if the father is depressed, and 19% if the mother has the condition.
Around 25% of kids are likely to be depressed if both parents are depressed.
A massive genome-wide association (GWAS) of genetic and health records has identified 178 gene variants associated with major depressive disorder, a condition that affects one in five people.
Genetic variations affect the nerve connections in parts of the brain that control behavior, personality, and decision-making.
The higher the number of variations, the greater the risk of depression.
Inflammatory conditions in the brain cause release of anti-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
These cytokines act on the brain to contribute to depression.
When the genes regulating cytokines are involved, they may cause an onset of depression.
You can opt for genetic testing if you feel you are at a high risk of developing depression due to your family history.
Genetic testing may help:
If you have a first-degree relative with depression or showing depressive symptoms, it may be a good idea to seek consultation with your mental health provider.
Undergoing genetic counseling will help you understand your risk for depression and the best way to prevent it.
Understanding that people without genetic or familial history may also develop depression is essential.
At the same time, it is not necessary that people with a risk of developing depression will develop it.
Depression is a serious mental condition that impacts how you feel and the way you think and act.
When left untreated, it can become very disabling, impairing all aspects of human function.
Observational data suggest associations between lower serum vitamin D levels and a higher risk of late-life depression.
Further, lower vitamin D levels may influence the etiology of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Some research studies report that people with depression have lower vitamin D levels than those without depression.
But so far, no large-scale study has proven that supplementation with vitamin D or any other vitamin can cure depression.
During exposure to sunlight, the UV-B rays convert a chemical called 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin into previtamin D3.
Previtamin D3 then travels to the liver and picks up oxygen and hydrogen molecules to become 23-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D, the active form.
Even though it’s active, 25(OH)D cannot function till it reaches the kidney to acquire the final pair of oxygen and hydrogen.
This forms 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D/1,23(OH)2D or calcitriol.
Calcium is an integral part of our skeletal system and crucial for bone health.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.
Without this vitamin, only 10-15% of dietary calcium is absorbed (compared to 30-40% with sufficient vitamin D levels).
Low vitamin D levels can increase the risk of fractures, osteoporosis, and other bone conditions.
Recent studies have observed vitamin D receptors (proteins that bind to vitamin D) in several tissues in the body.
The vitamin D receptors are almost omnipresent from the prostate and heart to blood vessels, muscles, and glands.
Research is still underway to find all the roles of vitamin D in the body.
|Race||Non-Hispanic African-Americans are at the greatest risk for vitamin D deficiency. According to a study, they composed a significant 39.3% of the vitamin D deficient population, compared to only 16.5% of the vitamin D sufficient population.|
|Geography||A study suggests that populations living in any geographic location higher than 35° N are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Places like North Canada and Alaska, for example, have less access to the UV-B rays.|
|Age||The ability to convert inactive to active vitamin D decreases with age, putting older people at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.|
|Skin||Those with darker skin color have more melanin pigments blocking the entry of UV-B rays. Thus, they may be prone to vitamin D deficiency.|
|Pollution||Dust particles can block UV-B rays from reaching the skin. Therefore, those who live in highly polluted may be vitamin D deficient. The deficiency may also be because of the lower inclination to step out in the sun due to higher pollution.|
|Pregnancy & breastfeeding||The demand for vitamin D increases during pregnancy. Following the same diet can result in vitamin D deficiency. Thus, doctors tend to prescribe prenatal supplements with vitamin D in them.|
|Obesity||Fat may interfere with vitamin D absorption. Furthermore, obese people may have mobility issues due to low sun exposure. Those who opt for bariatric surgeries may be at increased risk for malabsorption and subsequent vitamin D deficiency. Those who are overweight but not obese tend to have a lower risk.|
|Absorption issues||Many health conditions like Crohn’s and Celiac disease interfere with nutrient absorption, increasing one’s risk for vitamin D deficiency.|
|Kidney and liver health||The liver and kidneys are two sites in the body where vitamin D is converted into an active and usable form. Any health conditions affecting these organs can increase vitamin D deficiency risk.|
|Smoking||Recent studies have suggested that smoking can reduce vitamin D levels by affecting the ability of sinus mucosa (fluid lining the nasal cavity) to circulate this vitamin. The risk was reduced in former smokers compared to current smokers.|
|Diet||Those who adopt vegetarian and vegan diets without adequate supplementation are at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency.|
|Lifestyle||Any activity that gives less to no room for sunlight can significantly increase vitamin D deficiency risk. Those who wear clothes that cover their whole body for protection or religious reasons get minimal UV-B entry and are prone to deficiency.|
Image: Risk factors for Vitamin D Deficiency
Numerous studies have reported an association between vitamin D deficiency and depression.
In particular, prenatal vitamin D deficiency has been connected with postpartum depression.
However, whether it is a causation or correlation relationship remains unclear.
A few small studies seemed to have observed improvements in depression symptoms upon vitamin D supplementation.
A review of 14 studies involving 31,424 adults by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported low vitamin D levels among those with depression.
However, the clinical trials couldn’t back up such findings.
In August 2020, a large study that observed the link between long-term vitamin D supplementation and depression was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The trial included 18,353 participants 50 years and older.
None of them had depression or its symptoms at the beginning of the study.
The trial concluded no statistical difference in “the incidence and recurrence of depression or clinically relevant depressive symptoms” throughout the study in the participants who took vitamin D compared to those who took a placebo.
All these results suggest that the link between vitamin D and depression is a correlative relationship.
Those with depression may have low vitamin D levels, but it doesn’t mean the deficiency causes depression.
Lesser outdoor time
Severe forms of depression can make it very difficult to get out of bed.
Others may go to work but not participate in any outdoor activities.
Such social withdrawal results in lesser outdoor time and consequently lesser exposure to sunlight.
This can result in vitamin D deficiency.
Some people with depression may lose appetite, putting them at risk of not eating a balanced diet.
They may also not show much interest in looking for vitamin D-fortified foods.
This may increase the risk for vitamin D and other nutritional deficiencies.
Even though the jury is still out regarding vitamin D’s effect on depression, research has shown that it is involved in mood regulation.
This could’ve been derived from the observation that our brains have a widespread distribution of vitamin D.
While you can’t tell for sure that vitamin D supplements can treat or help avoid depression, they may help alleviate the symptoms.
It is important to consult a doctor and get a blood test (if required) before getting started on a vitamin D supplement.
Both vitamin D2 and D3 work well as supplements.
D2 is derived from plants, while animal sources produce D3.
It is important to understand that amping up your vitamin D is not a replacement for seeing a mental health care provider to help treat depression.
We obtain most of the vitamin D via UV-B rays from the sun. Certain food items provide vitamin D as well. Certain groups of the population (dark-skinned, older, living in the northern regions, obese) may be at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. Though a few small studies have linked vitamin D with depression, there’s still no clarity on whether there’s a causal relationship between the two. Vitamin D may not treat or prevent depression, but studies reveal that supplementation and sun exposure are effective ways to help regulate the mood.
Vitamins are essential micronutrients and form an integral component of a balanced diet.
So, they are derived from the food we eat.
Vitamins are classified as:
Though several diseases are studied in association with vitamin deficiency, few people know the impact vitamins have on mental health.
Mental health illnesses are any condition or disorder that affects an individual’s mood, behavior, or thinking.
While several treatment modalities are available for treating mental health illnesses, nutrition therapy may be effective in some.
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions and affects nearly 8% of Americans.
Deficiency of one or more B vitamins may contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Several vitamin deficiencies have been associated with anxiety and other mental health symptoms. These include:
Thiamine or vitamin B1 belongs to the B complex vitamins.
This vitamin participates in energy metabolism, cell function, development, and growth.
A study published in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine in 2011 stated that 100 mg of vitamin B1 daily in the participants improved their Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS) scores.
The study also reported that these patients showed improved appetite and energy levels and reduced fatigue.
Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine and is essential for the metabolism and health of the central nervous system.
A study published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research in 2019 stated that low intake of vitamin B6 was associated with increased risk for mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
The study recommended adequate intake of nutritional status of the individual, including vitamin B6.
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is a vital B vitamin as it plays a role in red blood cell formation and acts as a co-factor in DNA synthesis.
A deficiency of vitamin B12 results in pernicious anemia, characterized by a problem in oxygen transport in the body.
Since vitamin B12 also acts as a co-factor in synthesizing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, vitamin B12 deficiency causes symptoms like mood swings, paranoia, irritability, and confusion.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin produced by the body on exposure to sunlight.
You can also get this vitamin via diet and supplements.
People with anxiety and other psychiatric disorders tend to have lower vitamin D levels.
Since nearly 50% of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency, the risk of developing associated anxiety is also relatively high.
Vitamin C plays an essential role in mental health.
People who are deficient in vitamin C experience depression and chronic fatigue.
Studies show vitamin C improves mood, lowers stress and anxiety symptoms, and boosts cognitive function.
Image: Vitamin deficiencies that play a role in anxiety
Besides vitamins, minerals are the other essential micronutrients that may contribute to mental health conditions, including anxiety.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body.
Since magnesium plays a role in optimal neurotransmitter activity and proper nervous system functioning, it affects brain function and mental health.
A study found that magnesium has a calming effect as it activates the GABA (A) receptors, so this mineral is often found in anti-anxiety medications.
Iron is a trace mineral found in every cell of the body.
It is an integral part of hemoglobin, the blood pigment responsible for carrying oxygen to all parts of the body.
Iron is also a co-factor in synthesizing the neurotransmitter serotonin ( a chemical found in the brain).
A deficiency of iron has been shown to increase the risk of developing anxiety, mood, and panic disorders.
Studies have shown that people with iron deficiency have increased anxiety and fearfulness.
Zinc is another mineral that is required as a co-factor for various enzymes in the body.
It is also essential for mental health as it participates in the production of neurotransmitters and is required for the normal functioning of the nervous system.
Studies have shown that people with lower levels of zinc have a higher tendency for anxiety.
Omega-3 fatty acids are called essential fatty acids as the body does not produce them and have to be obtained through diet.
These fatty acids are vital for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Some studies have shown low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in anxious individuals, and extremely low levels correlate to severe anxiety.
Nutritional therapy uses dietary recommendations to prevent and manage anxiety.
If you are struggling with anxiety, here are a few foods that you can include in your anti-anxiety diet:
Alcohol is one of the most commonly used substances globally and has been linked to a wide range of negative consequences.
It can harm mental health, including increased risk for anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
Understanding the relationship between alcohol and mental health is important because it can help reduce the prevalence of these conditions and improve people's lives.
Alcohol can exacerbate anxiety in several ways.
Alcohol causes a temporary spike in heart rate and blood pressure.
Chronic consumption of alcohol can lead to ongoing increased heart rate and blood pressure, weakened heart muscles, and irregular heartbeat.
A Sneak-peek Into the Gene Health Report
Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals.
Alcohol consumption interferes with neurotransmitter levels, throwing your body out of balance.
For example, GABA is a neurotransmitter that reduces energy levels and calms your body down.
When alcohol increases the GABA levels, the sedation effects are amplified, causing wobbly walking and speech slurring.
Alcohol also increases dopamine levels, stimulating the brain's reward centers, thus tricking you into thinking alcohol is pleasurable.
Thus, alcohol consumption throws your neurotransmitter levels off balance, thereby worsening your activity.
Alcohol can induce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness; however, excess consumption can lead to poor sleep quality.
Alcohol is a depressant and results in quick sleep onset. So, people fall into deep sleep quicker, creating an imbalance in the stages of sleep.
This decreases the overall sleep quality, making anxiety management difficult.
Alcohol affects how nerves communicate with each other in a region of the brain called the hippocampus.
The hippocampus plays a role in memory formation.
Alcohol slows down the normal nerve activity here, thereby worsening short-term memory.
This can be very unsettling, even more so for people with anxiety.
Hangxiety is hangover-related-anxiety.
It describes the significant increase in anxiety one may experience after a night of heavy drinking.
Everyone may not experience this.
People with existing anxiety or social phobia are more prone to it.
There are a few hypotheses on why hangxiety happens.
Image: Hangover and Anxiety - Hangxiety Management
For people with anxiety, a few drinks may help them relax.
But alcohol can also make anxiety worse in some people.
While alcohol may initially relieve anxiety symptoms, they return once alcohol is eliminated from the body.
Over time, the more you drink, the more alcohol it'll take for your body to be in a relaxed state.
This tolerance build-up can put a person at dangerous risk for alcohol addiction.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, but it can interfere with daily life when it becomes excessive or disabling.
There are many ways to manage anxiety; here are a few tips to get started:
Have you ever wondered why you look different from your parents, friends, or your friendly next-door neighbor? Except in cases of identical twins or a celebrity doppelganger, we all have this uniqueness in how we look and our characteristics and habits. What can be attributed to this uniqueness? Answering this involves digging up the age-old debate of genetics versus environment, more popularly, Nature versus Nurture.
Nature, referring to genetics, is the unique combination of genes you inherit from your biological parents. Your genes influence certain characteristics like blood group, eye color, natural hair color, etc.
Even certain health conditions are caused by a change in your genes. For example, cystic fibrosis is a condition caused by mutations in the CFTR gene.
The influence of genetics can be visibly seen across other species as well. For instance, the color of fruits and flowers of a plant is determined by its genetic makeup.
‘Nurture’ here refers to the environment. The environmental factors also blanket the lifestyle and other habits of an individual. For example, a person’s weight can be influenced by factors like diet and physical activities. The environment also influences the risk for certain health conditions like coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
In plants, the amount of sunlight and water exposure can determine the height of the plants as well as the number of fruits/flowers produced. Can we really tease apart nature and nurture for human traits and characteristics?
Research on identical twins has been used to separately study the effects of genes and environment on specific characteristics. Identical twins are known to have the same DNA and are thus, ‘genetically’ identical. Therefore, theoretically, they must have identical characteristics.
But mostly, this is not the case. Identical twins may grow up to be two very different people with varied personalities and preferences. Since they have identical genetic makeup, these differences can only be attributed to environmental factors.
A study on smoker-non-smoker twins revealed that skin aging was way more accelerated in smoker twins than the non-smoker twin.
Thus, the uniqueness of organisms is not because of genetics or the environment acting alone. There is no winner in the Nature vs. Nurture debate. Human traits are influenced by both Nature and Nurture.
You can learn about the genes that influence various attributes, from your nutrition and fitness profile to cancer risk, through a simple genetic test. Most genetic tests provide your DNA information in the form of a text file known as the raw DNA data. This data may seem like Greek and Latin to you. We, at Xcode Life, can help you interpret this data. All you have to do is upload your raw data and order any of the thirteen genetic reports we offer. Xcode Life then analyzes your raw data in detail to provide you with a comprehensive genetic analysis.
Xcode Life’s Traits & Personality report profiles genes associated with various personality traits. This report mainly revolves around behavioral genetics, which is a field that analyzes how genes and environments bring about differences in mood, personality, and intelligence.
Some people are predisposed to being open and outgoing, while others may be more shy and reserved. While some may be big risk-takers, a few others may prefer playing it safe. This is because we are predisposed to a certain way of interacting with people around us.
Some interesting facts about genes and personality traits:
The report covers over 25 personality traits associated with employment, education, emotion, relationship, and mood. Along with your outcome, the details of the genes analyzed for each trait are also provided. The report comes with personalized recommendations based on your results. These recommendations include tips to enhance or improve your personality.
Please bear in mind that human traits are a result of complex interactions between multiple genes and environmental factors. The findings presented in this report are of a preliminary nature and are not meant for diagnostic purposes.
The report analyzes 25+ personality-related parameters, including empathy, leadership potential, exploratory behavior, creativity, optimism, memory, reaction time, and deep sleep. For a comprehensive list of the traits covered, click here.
For a sample Trait and Personality report/ preview of the report, click here.
Conscientiousness is one’s ability to follow socially prescribed norms, be goal-directed, plan, and delay gratification. It is included in the Big Five Taxonomy of personality traits and makes one diligent and careful.
Conscientious individuals tend to be:
- Very organized
- Sticklers for their routines
- Critical thinkers
- Problem solvers
Conscientiousness affects one’s behavior and compels them to do well in their life, career, and workplace.
Research has found that good health has been associated with conscientiousness. This is because people who are conscientious are less likely to indulge in unhealthy habits like drugs, alcohol, and smoking. Also, their self-discipline and avoidance of stressful situations drive them to lead healthy lives.
Conscientiousness can shape an individual’s career choices, the relationships they make, friendships, marriage stability, and other aspects that influence their life, health, and longevity. A study reported by Patrick L. Hill and his colleagues from the University of Illinois suggests that having high conscientiousness has cognitive benefits, which is also related to longevity.
Conscientiousness is one of the many characteristics that shape an individual’s behavior and personality. It is associated with five sub-traits, namely:
Most, if not all of our traits, are influenced by genes.
Studies have shown that conscientiousness has a heritability of about 50 percent.
The genes that are associated with conscientiousness include SMOC1, LAMB1, DYRK1A, and COL19A1.
The SMOC1 gene contains instruction for the production of secreted modular calcium-binding protein 1. This gene is located on chromosome 14. The SMOC-1 protein binds to other proteins and regulates the growth and development of tissues throughout the body.
rs11626232 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the SMOC1 gene. It has been associated with conscientiousness levels. The C allele of rs11626232 has been linked to lower levels of conscientiousness.
The Big 5 personality traits work together, giving each one of us a complex personality. Each of these traits influences the other. Also, a person’s personality is not constant but keeps changing as they go from childhood into teenage and adulthood.
Some factors that influence a person’s personality and, thereby, individual traits like conscientiousness are:
- Life experiences at different stages
Conscious effort and practice can help you increase your conscientiousness. The Harvard Medical School recommends the following to improve your conscientiousness:
Focus on specifics: Set your mind on being punctual, or start with organizing your desk. You might see a difference. A start to be more conscientious will help you to achieve more.
Make daily plans and stick to them: Create a to-do list every day and try to complete it at the end of the day. This will encourage you to be more organized.
Use reminders: If you are naturally not a conscientious person, you will not be able to do any work as planned. Hence, it is recommended to set reminders in any of your gadgets.
Stay social: Staying in touch with your family and friends will motivate you to be conscientious.
Here are some additional tips:
- Eliminate distractions while performing a task.
- Reward yourself for showing conscientiousness, and it will act as positive reinforcement.
- Listen to others more as that can help you understand people and develop emotional intelligence.
Impulsivity is a personality trait commonly observed in both children and adults. Impulsivity is the tendency to act without any prior thinking, without worrying about the consequences or reactions to one’s action. Impulsivity has been associated with risky behavior.
Interestingly, people see impulsivity positively when the action or decision works in favor and negatively when it doesn’t.
According to a popular 1995 clinical psychological study, three major factors contribute to impulsivity:
In children, the initial stages of impulsivity are considered quite common. The developing brains of children prevent them from thinking about consequences. Consistently levels of high impulsivity in adults and children may, however, be associated with mental health disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and substance abuse.
The HTR2A gene helps produce the 5-HT2A receptor (5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 2A). This receptor is found in various parts of the body, including the brain, stem cells, immune cells, and the heart.
This activated receptor causes psychotic health problems like depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.
rs6313 and rs6311
rs6313 and rs6311 are single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs in this gene. The T allele of this rs6313 the A allele of rs6311 are associated with lowered levels of impulsivity.
According to certain studies, men show higher levels of impulsivity than women. Men tend to enjoy the various traits of impulsivity like risk-taking, sensation seeking, and aggression more than women and are hence more impulsive.
A psychosocial experimental study analyzed the levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking in people of different age groups. The study concluded that impulsivity starts reducing from the age of 10.
Children and early teenagers show the highest levels of impulsivity. After 16, adolescents are able to control their impulsivity much better.
The frontal lobes of the brain control impulsive behavior. When there is an injury to the brain that affects the frontal lobes, it can lead to changes in impulsive behavior.
Practice delayed gratification
Delayed gratification is resisting the temptation of getting something right away because of the promise of a bigger reward in the future. People with high levels of impulsivity suffer from the need for instant gratification (the need to get something or do something right away).
When you start enjoying the results of delayed gratification, the dire need to get something done instantly comes down. A 2002 study offered a group of students two kinds of incentives - a small incentive available right then and a bigger incentive available after a week.
Students who followed delayed gratification waited a week to pick the bigger incentive. The students who were unable to wait for the bigger award and were impulsive were found to be more associated with substance abuse problems
Brain Training Exercises
Brain Training programs are usually designed to improve specific functionalities of the brain. You can use a mix of tools, exercises, and programs to improve impulse control, too. These are methods to help bring positive changes to a person’s behavioral traits without medicines.
**Cognitive Behavioral Training (CBT) Techniques
Another proven technique to help better impulse control is CBT. CBT techniques help people understand their triggers when it comes to impulsivity and provide alternative ways to handle urges and temptations. A trained CBT expert should be handling these interventions.
If impulsivity is a sign of mental health conditions like ADHD, substance abuse, Impulse-Control Disorder (ICD), or eating disorder, then medications that treat these conditions can help improve impulse control too.