The Right Genes For Better Time On Task Performance

As individual genetic analysis becomes faster and cheaper our disposition to particular conditions is becoming easier to determine. Of course, the first questions focus on our health, but the information possibilities are much wider than that.

Dopamine is an important chemical that works on our cognition, learning, reward, and attention responses in our frontal cortex. There are a number of genes that play a part in its production on spikes of brain activity and background level. Lim et al have attempted to tie down the effect of the polymorphism of these genes on the ability of people to concentrate on a boring but demanding task for a significant period of time (1).

The experiment used 332 people who had to press a button to stop a digital counter counting milliseconds as fast as they could whenever it appeared in view, which it did every few seconds. They had to do this for twenty minutes and their reaction times were monitored.

In addition, their genes were untangled from saliva samples. Some of the genes are thought make dopamine available on the call from activity and others control the background level over time. Of course these two aren’t entirely independent as a lot of demand will lead to a general increase over time.

The results indicate that it is the genes that regulate the background level that tend to give longer Time On Task (TOT) performance than those that control the releases on spells of activity.

Perhaps in future job interviews we will have to bring in our DNA stats as well as our SAT scores to see if we are suited to mind numbing tasks on a production line.


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