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Genetic Reason for Your Gadget Habit 239

You can't help it if you need to get the latest gadgets. Well... perhaps it's not quite such a serious medical affliction, but scientists have found a genetic basis for some folks' burning desire to have the latest and greatest. There's even a name for it - neophilia. Apparently, some of us have elevated levels of a cellular enzyme, monoamine oxidase A, and are more in need of stimulation from new things.
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Genetic Reason for Your Gadget Habit

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  • Re:Is there a cure? (Score:2, Informative)

    by brianf711 ( 873109 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @10:19AM (#15705110)
    You can decrease its activity with MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), also known as anti-depressants.
  • Re:Is there a cure? (Score:4, Informative)

    by milamber3 ( 173273 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @10:22AM (#15705135)
    There are ways to cut the levels, MAOI drugs which inhibit MAO's from breaking down the monoanime neurotransmitters (dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin) are pretty powerful anti-depressants. Unfortunately they have some very unfriendly reactions with other meds as well as side effects and increased health risks. MAO's do so much more than just make you want new stuff.
  • by porkchop_d_clown ( 39923 ) <> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @10:49AM (#15705354) Homepage
    this would be old news.

    I mean, "neophilia" has been in the jargon file [] since, what, 1973?
  • Re:Is there a cure? (Score:3, Informative)

    by reverseengineer ( 580922 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @10:56AM (#15705419)
    The monoamine oxidases are responsible for breaking down certain neurotransmitters in the body (monoamines like adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin). I assume (read the article, not the paper) what this research is getting at is that this certain form of monoamine oxidase A is more effective in breaking down neurotransmitters- perhaps dopamine in particular, as dopamine is an important factor in the body's "reward" system.

    I'd imagine that such "neophiliacs" have a sort of addiction to novelty then- they get a brief high from acquiring or experiencing the new hotness, then crash down into a depression when it becomes the old and busted. The process is likely very similar to what is found in gambling addiction- in most people, it's (nearly) harmless fun, but in a select few, it becomes a ruinous compulsion. In the case of a severe "gadget addict," I'd bet living in Akihabara would be like a gambling addict living at a casino.

    As to what can be done in severe cases, pharmaceutical antidepressants have been used to modulate neurotransmitter levels for decades, and in particular, the class known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors seem tailor-made for this.

  • Re:Is there a cure? (Score:2, Informative)

    by (Score.5, Interestin ( 865513 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @11:08AM (#15705524)
    I was just about to post some tongue-in-cheek comments about MAOIs... firstly you really don't want to try and "treat" this with a MAOI, these things are used as a last resort if everything else fails because they interact with virtually anything else you take (including food) in ways ranging from slightly problematic through to fatal. Since MAOI's can have permanent effects on brain functions (i.e. the effects don't go away once you stop taking the medication), it's also something you have to be pretty desperate to consider taking. Finally, as the article says, I'm somewhat sceptical about MAOA causing this, more likely it was coincidence that the elevated levels were found in the subjects.
  • Re:Or... BS!!! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @12:01PM (#15705933)
    Example. Have you ever looked at the people in the supermarkets that use food stamps. A lot of them, but not all, have their nails done, their hair professionaly styled, name brand clothing/atire, more makeup on their face than they really need, a brand new gas guzzling SUV every year or two, etc.

    Those people are frauds who are cheating the poor; they buy those stamps from poor people at half the face value. Poor people like beer and cigarrettes (and many are addicted), and that job at McDonald's just doesn't buy much beer or many cigarettes, so if they have ample food stamps, they sell some. If you can afford payments on an SUV you don't get food stamps, PERIOD.

    Now the kicker - there aren't any more food stamps! Food stamps have been replaced by what's called a "LINK" card in all 50 states. It's been a long, long time since actual coupons have been used. It looks exactly like a credit card or an ATM card, and it was phased in to prevent exactly the kind of abuse that you CLAIM to have seen that I described. Now, you can't tell a "food stamp" (link card) user from anybody else using their Visa.

    So in short - BULLSHIT! You're busted, liar! (Ten bucks says you vote straight Republican)
  • Re:Is there a cure? (Score:2, Informative)

    by milamber3 ( 173273 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @01:06PM (#15706380)
    We do have drugs that affect one, some, or all of them. Norepinephrine is made from epinephrine which is made from dopamine and you can inhibit the cascade in multiple places. The problem is that they do so many different things manipulating them to have a positive benefit is very tricky. The same goes for serotonin, SSRI's have that first S for selective by necessity, it allows them to have some positive benefit but they are also very mild as anti-depressants go. When you start increasing serotonin throughout the CNS in a non-selective way you end up with something akin to the street drug LSD.

    Also a slight correction, and I'm not trying to be a jerk, but they are neurotransmitters (NT) not enzymes. It can be a very important difference in that enzymes catalyze reactions while NT's generally act as ligands for receptors.

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.