Today, I’m wondering if I’m a warrior or a worrier.

Well, actually, I know which one I am, but Charkie shared an interesting New York Times article on why some people thrive on stressful situations and why some don’t. It comes down to the COMPT gene, which an encodes an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the pre-frontal cortex. In some people, this enzyme is fast-acting, rapidly breaking down dopamine and removing it, whereas in other people, it’s slow-acting.

In stable conditions, people who have the slow-acting variant of the enzyme tend to do better on cognitive tasks. They can concentrate better, they can reason better, they can predict future consequences better. All in all, they have superior cognitive function than their counterparts. However, introduce a stressful or chaotic environment, and this whole picture reverses. In stable environments, the amount of dopamine residing in the pre-frontal cortex is low, so in those with fast-acting enzymes, this dopamine will be broken down too quickly. These people actually function better in charged situations because their fast-acting enzymes reduce the quantity of dopamine in their pre-frontal cortex to optimal levels.

This article explained a lot about me. I definitely thrive in stable situations with few unknowns, and I tend to seek these out in my life. I’m not much of an adventurer. I am really, truly a nester. But Jarkie and I talked about how she might be a warrior. This could explain why she loves to travel and has kind of the opposite of my nesting tendencies; she’s always looking for the unknown as a source of stimulation.


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