Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is ADHD An Advantage For Nomadic Tribesmen?

Date:
June 10, 2008
Source:
BMC Evolutionary Biology
Summary:
A propensity for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might be beneficial to a group of Kenyan nomads, according to new research in BMC Evolutionary Biology. Scientists have shown that an ADHD-associated version of the gene DRD4 is associated with better health in nomadic tribesmen, and yet may cause malnourishment in their settled cousins.

An older nomad.
Credit: Jason Radak

A propensity for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might be beneficial to a group of Kenyan nomads, according to new research. Scientists have shown that an ADHD-associated version of the gene DRD4 is associated with better health in nomadic tribesmen, and yet may cause malnourishment in their settled cousins.

A study led by Dan Eisenberg, an anthropology graduate student from Northwestern University in the US, analyzed the correlates of body mass index (BMI) and height with two genetic polymorphisms in dopamine receptor genes, in particular the 48 base pair (bp) repeat polymorphism in the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene.

The DRD4 gene codes for a receptor for dopamine, one of the chemical messengers used in the brain. According to Eisenberg "this gene is likely to be involved in impulsivity, reward anticipation and addiction". One version of the DRD4 gene, the '7R allele', is believed to be associated with food craving as well as ADHD. By studying adult men of the Ariaal of Kenya, some of whom still live as nomads while others have recently settled, the research team investigated whether this association would have the same implications in different environments.

While those with the DRD4/7R allele were better nourished in the nomadic population, they were less well-nourished in the settled population. Although the effects of different versions of dopamine genes have already been studied in industrialized countries, very little research has been carried out in non-industrial, subsistence environments like the areas where the Ariaal live, despite the fact that such environments may be more similar to the environments where much of human genetic evolution took place.

Eisenberg explains, "The DRD4/7R allele has been linked to greater food and drug cravings, novelty-seeking, and ADHD symptoms. It is possible that in the nomadic setting, a boy with this allele might be able to more effectively defend livestock against raiders or locate food and water sources, but that the same tendencies might not be as beneficial in settled pursuits such as focusing in school, farming or selling goods".

These findings suggest that behavior differences previously associated with the DRD4 gene, such as ADHD, are more or less effective depending on the environment. Research into how this might occur in Ariaal children is planned in the near future.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMC Evolutionary Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dan T.A. Eisenberg, Benjamin Campbell, Peter B. Gray and Michael D. Sorenson. Dopamine receptor genetic polymorphisms and body composition in undernourished pastoralists: An exploration of nutrition indices among nomadic and recently settled Ariaal men of northern Kenya. BMC Evolutionary Biology, (in press)

Cite This Page:

BMC Evolutionary Biology. "Is ADHD An Advantage For Nomadic Tribesmen?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080609195604.htm>.
BMC Evolutionary Biology. (2008, June 10). Is ADHD An Advantage For Nomadic Tribesmen?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080609195604.htm
BMC Evolutionary Biology. "Is ADHD An Advantage For Nomadic Tribesmen?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080609195604.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins