Are Some People Destined To Cheat?

Are Some People Destined To Cheat?

We've all known someone who just can't commit. Now, research suggests that staying faithful is a matter of genetics.

by Todd Katz
We all know there seem to be some folks out there who "can't help but" stray...or so they say. Now, scientific research reveals that there may be some truth to that-that some living creatures are genetically programmed to seek out many partners.

The saga begins with the prairie vole, one of the world's only monogamous mammals. When the male of the species is smitten by that special somebody, the pair bonds
When researchers introduced the gene into the lecherous critters' noggins, the rodents became hopeless romantics.
for life. Avoiding all other females, he'll spend hours grooming his lover's fur, and when necessary lay down his life in defense of her or their pups. But the prairie vole's player of a cousin, the meadow vole, jumps from partner to partner, with no loyalty to any one female…that is, until a group of scientists started tinkering with his noggin.

"We had two closely related species exhibiting startlingly different behavior, and we believed there might be a biological or physiological component," explains Miranda Lim, Ph.D., of Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Center. What she and her fellow researchers discovered is that the monogamous prairie voles, unlike the promiscuous meadow voles, have high levels of vasopressin receptors—a chemical released
“People in love seem to activate this same reward region of the brain.”
after sex in both rodents and humans—in the reward center of their brain. These receptors help the prairie vole make a link between the smell of a particular mate and sexual pleasure, leading to instant monogamy.

The researchers isolated the vasopressin-receptor gene, and introduced it into some meadow voles. The result: The lecherous little rodents became hopelessly monogamous romantics.

So what does this indicate about the human male? "People in love seem to activate this same reward region of the brain," Lim says. "Obviously rodents are far simpler than humans. But vasopressin does appear necessary to establishing long-term bonding relationships."

While Lim says it's worth further investigating the role of vasopressin in humans, she says it's unlikely to lead to an actual cure for infidelity anytime soon. Rats…

New Yorker Todd Katz writes for Maxim and Stuff. While he has never cheated on a girlfriend, more than one has compared his behavior to that of a rodent.
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