Scientists are trying to figure out if a combination of genes associated with brain physiology and psychology could be a reason behind the emergence of terrorists. Research studies have so far proved to be inconclusive, with no clear findings to show a direct link between genes and terror traits.

Although scientists have been interested in studying the terrorism-genetics link for a long time, the 9/11 attacks in the United States has fueled the interest even more. The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has in fact been funding research projects on the subject since the 9/11 attacks. The recent spate of terror incidents in Paris and other parts of the world have prompted scientists to perform more aggressive research in the field.

According to a Pew Research Center report, there has been a decline in gun violence in general in the past 20 years. However, the increase in radicalisation and the spread of terrorism in recent years has prompted a growing interest in the specific study of a possible link between genes and terrorist activities such as suicide bombing, shooting and air hijacking.

Swedish researchers have found two genes, monoamine oxidase (MAOA) and cadherin 13, which, on mutation, seem to have a relation with violence, including homicidal behaviour, reports The Telegraph.

The researchers have found that while MAOA helps control dopamine levels in the brain (hence effectively keeping a check on feelings of well-being or happiness), cadherin-13 contributes to keeping impulsive behaviour in control. However, the research is still at a fledgling stage and has not yet ascertained the link between these genes and terrorist behaviour.

Another group of scientists from the National Institute of Aging has identified certain brain regions which appear to be used by religious research subjects. However, religious people are not always terrorists, so the study remains inadequate in establishing a link between terrorism and genes.

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