The "warrior gene" in men might be the "happy gene" in women - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

The "warrior gene" in men might be the "happy gene" in women

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What is considered to be the "warrior gene" in men might be the "happiness gene" in women.

A new study found that a low-expression form of monoamine oxidase A, or MAOA gene, is linked to feelings of happiness in women.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of South Florida, the National Institutes of Health, Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

The MAOA gene regulates the actions of an enzyme that breaks down dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain, some of the same chemicals targeted by antidepressants.

The new findings came from data taken from 193 women and 152 men. When scientists controlled various factors they found that women with the low expression form of the gene were happier than women who did not have this form of the gene. The low expression version of the gene increases levels of monoamine, which, in turn, allows larger amounts of these neurotransmitters to stay in the brain.

Researchers found that many men had the "happy" version of the gene, but reported no more happiness than their peers without the "happy" version. The difference between men and women with the gene may have something to do with testosterone levels, which rise in men during puberty.

"Maybe men are happier before adolescence because their testosterone levels are lower," said the study's lead author Henian Chen, an associate professor at the University of South Florida's College of Public Health.