Horror film gene that makes some scream while others laugh

By | August 12, 2008

Scientists say different versions of a single gene linked to feelings of anxiety can explain the way in which some people simply cannot abide such movies, while others enjoy the suspense and the gore.

The findings may explain why it is that over the past 35 years people have had wildly different reactions to the classic horror film, The Exorcist.

While many screamed and some even fainted in cinemas at scenes of spinning heads and shaking beds, others simply laughed.

A particular variant of the ‘COMT’ gene affects a chemical in the brain that is linked to anxiety, they have found.

People who have two copies of one version of the gene are more easily disturbed when viewing unpleasant pictures, the scientists discovered.

That version of the gene weakens the effect of a signalling chemical in the brain that helps control certain emotions.

The scientists found that those carrying two copies of it were significantly more startled by frightening images than others.

By contrast, those who had one copy of the gene and one copy of another version were able to keep their emotions in check far more readily.

The study, published today in the scientific journal Behavioural Neuroscience, also found that those with two copies of the latter gene were also able to keep a lid on their anxiety more easily. – telegraph

It’s just gross to me, not funny or scary. What variant of COMT do I have?

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