The Biology of Alzheimer’s and Couch Potato Rat DNA

I am concerned with an ongoing effort in the scientific community to prove, once-and-for all, that some of us are genetically predestined to be lazy.  It seems there are those among us who are natural-born couch potatoes.  If laziness become a medical condition, then I’m sure we’ll soon see a category of disability that will then offer the lazier among us a Federally paid way of life for sitting around all day watching television.

Here’s the latest research this week from the Show Me State:

In their study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on April 3, 2013, Roberts and Booth put rats in cages with running wheels and measured how much each rat willingly ran on their wheels during a six-day period. They then bred the top 26 runners with each other and bred the 26 rats that ran the least with each other. They repeated this process through 10 generations and found that the line of running rats chose to run 10 times more than the line of “lazy” rats.

“While we found minor differences in the body composition and levels of mitochondria in muscle cells of the rats, the most important thing we identified were the genetic differences between the two lines of rats,” Roberts said. “Out of more than 17,000 different genes in one part of the brain, we identified 36 genes that may play a role in predisposition to physical activity motivation.”

Two years ago, we learned about Lazy Rats, and I’m not sure why we need even more research into rodent sloth.  You know there won’t be a vaccine for laziness because, people will argue, they were “born that way.”  Laziness will become an excuse for behavior.  “I’m lazy in my bones!” — will become the new motto shouted, ever so softly, from the sofa.

Now, genetic research that quantifies the differences between Races and the acquisition of Alzheimer’s is a much more robust, and perhaps, even radical, methodology for understanding our minds:

The researchers calculated that ABCA7 increased Alzheimer’s risk by about 80 percent in African-Americans, compared with about 10 percent to 20 percent in people of European ancestry. Those are considered modest increases; a gene that carries a significant risk would increase the chances of getting a disease by well over 200 percent. And ABCA7 was not very common, still leaving most Alzheimer’s risk unexplained. About 9 of every 100 African-Americans with Alzheimer’s had the gene, compared with 6 out of 100 who did not have the disease.

It matters what we choose to research and examine. Money is short and temptation is long. Should we be spending resources and time on defining what makes a rat lazy, or should we instead be divining the deepest pockets of our minds to discover not only what we think, and how we wonder, but also why our minds can get sick and what we might do to prevent the decay of perceptive, active, thought?

31 comments

  • hmmm have they shown any correlation between laziness and Alzhheimer’s? I definitely think more research should go into the study of how we can prevent Alzheimer’s over whether laziness is genetic or not. I am 100% with you, I can just see those who will cling onto this and use it as an excuse for their lack of productivity in life. BUT – after watching the movie “The Pursuit of Happiness” with Will Smith, I did start to wonder “what gives some people so much drive while others seem to give up so easy?” This is a very interesting topic. Initially I scoffed at the thought, but now, I wonder…

    Like

    • When the “Couch Potato” press release arrived in my Inbox from MU, I thought it was quaint and anecdotal, but when I did a little online searching and found out this Rat research into finding our “lazy gene” was an ongoing meme, I became a little concerned that so much time and money were being spent on covering this alleged breakthrough discovery!

      I can’t think of a single good thing to come of out the scientific community confirming, “Hey, you was born lazy!” Then they’ll discover the fat gene, and people will say, “Hey, I’m fat and lazy and none of it’s my fault! Total disability, please! Yes, I’ll use Direct Deposit.”

      Once people get confirmation that their disabilities are genetic and randomization, they tend to cotton downward into the protective despair of their bodies and nothing good comes of it. They finally have a reason for all the bad things that have cursed their lives and the wallowing begins.

      The real inspiration is in those who rise above their disabilities and ask for no honor or break or concern. They just go about their lives as if nothing were wrong — even if their genes are dead set against them — and those are the folks we should be studying because they are certainly scientific outliers.

      Like

      • Great POINT! why DON’T we spend more time studying the success stories – and there are PLENTY – and less time focusing on how to make excuses for our faults? I know a person who spent the better part of 17 years trying to prove they are unemployable – the time it took to persevere through that! They could have had two doctorates and a Ph. D. The person won, and it seems all her problems are solved. One of her arguments for her disability?… The fear of being called into someones office because she feared bad news!!! People will try anything.

        Like

        • Right! I love that story you told because I hate it so much! SMILE!

          This research is all driven by Big Pharma. They want to find the gene that made us lazy that made us fat so they can pop us a pill that will make us do this and more of that!

          The problem with that thinking is that lazy people tend to love being lazy. Do you think they really want to take a pill that will make them more active and motivated so they can work harder? I would think not.

          Now, a fat gene discovery will be grand and the pill-popping will begin in earnest — but only if people are guaranteed they won’t have to exercise or eat less or get up off the couch!

          Like

  • Gordon Davidescu

    I’ve read that playing mind games — Scrabble, crossword puzzles, etc — actively engages the mind and helps ward off Alzheimer’s. Then again, I have also read that people drawn to those games may just be less likely to get it for other reasons, and the games are a sort of red herring.

    Like

    • I have read that keeping the mind engaged can help ward off Alzheimer’s, as can drinking green tea!

      Jan. 6, 2011 — Regular consumption of green tea may offer protection against Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and may also slow growth of cancer cells, new research indicates.

      Green tea, an ancient Chinese remedy, has been shown to have protective properties in undigested, freshly brewed forms. But a research team at Newcastle University in the U.K. set out to determine whether the protective substances remained active after digestion. And in the study, they did.

      http://goo.gl/6tqWc

      Like

    • My psychiastrist friend says that are not as good as they are made out to be – leaning new skills , changing hobbies using all parts of the mind would be a much better approach.

      Like

      • I think computers are always a good way to keep the mind alive and fresh because you can never really master the technology. Every day something goes wrong or needs to be fixed or changes. The challenge is key to creating new connections.

        Like

  • @David – we should be exploring our minds – the brain is one of the largest and most unexplored organs of the body ……..

    Like

  • Nicola —

    Yes, computers are good for the mind, but so is moving the body! I guess we just have to always exercise the everything of us.

    Like

  • @David – I am sure they can invent one ……………..

    Like

  • Well, if sunshine is key, that explains a lot for me. (from the rainy state of Washington :)) And I can see how fixing computers could keep your mind active, but with my use… just too much info to keep up with – hard to keep focused on one topic too long because it is all so interesting. Been trying to stay off the computer for more hours per day…

    Like

    • Me too – had to compromise – weather bad I can stay inside on computer – weather good outside filming or writing or swimming ……………. too hot and I retreat back inside again – no overcooking allowed

      Like

  • David, your comment about Big Pharma gets back to my point on the earlier post (The war on drugs); those in control want to keep control by keeping others week.

    Like

  • I had the same thought as you did while reading this… an interesting idea but it needs to be put on the back burner. Most people’s family histories warn of things much more tragic and fatal than simple laziness. We have to try to prioritize if we want to make any big changes.

    Like

  • Pingback: Möbius Strip Death Notifications at Sunnyside Manor « Boles Blogs

  • Pingback: The New Rude Millennials « Boles Blogs

  • Pingback: Why We Must Always Be Learning: New Media Methods and Social Aestheticism « Boles Blogs

Share Your Thoughts:

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s