A new study shows that the human tendency to behave impulsively could be linked to what scientists describe as “impulsivity genes.”

Preliminary data indicates these impulsivity genes may include gene coding for enzymes. These enzymes, in turn, synthesise the neurotransmitter serotonin and receptors where serotonins bind in the brain, triggering impulsive behaviour. The impulsive behaviour, which does not let human delay gratification, gets better with age.

The study was conducted on 602 twins by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine. It shows that with age, people acquire the tendency to wait for larger, delayed reward, instead of looking for short-term gains. Short-term gains or the tendency to take a smaller reward influences the impulsive (act now, think later) behaviour of people under 18.

The researchers term this tendency as “delay discounting.” It is the tendency to take a smaller reward now rather than waiting for a larger one available later.

The researchers are currently studying the association between delay discounting and genes. The researchers are currently analysing DNA and using questionnaire responses from as many as 25,000 people to identify specific genes involved in delay discounting, reports the Indian Express.

The study is expected to improve the understanding of impulsive behaviour, which can have profound effects on daily life and psychiatric well-being. Successful identification of the delay discounting genes could help in better understanding of the roots of several psychiatric disorders, including addictions.

Contact the writer at feedback@ibtimes.com.au or tell us what you think below.