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Discover the Working Memory Gene and What It Means For You

What Do Your Genes Say About Your Memory, Mental Traits, and Cognitive Ability?

Discover the ‘Working Memory Gene’ - and what it means for you.


Have you ever wondered why some people can remember details with astonishing ease, while others struggle to digest even the most simple information?

Ever wondered why some people can speak multiple languages fluently… while others struggle to say hello in French?

Well, new research has revealed that your genetics play a BIG role in your brain’s ability to digest, store, and retrieve information. In this post, we’re going to share how you can find out whether you carry the ‘memory gene’ - and what to do, if you don’t.

Study Shows It’s NOT Your Fault You Can’t Remember!

A recent study from the University of California has revealed that genetic differences in a gene in the dopamine system have a significant impact on working memory in humans.

So; what is working memory?

Working memory is our mind’s ability to hold information long enough to process or manipulate that data. Holding that information in mind is a short-term process, and we are limited in the amount of information that we can remember at once. More specifically: a person can hold approximately 7 pieces of information in their working memory, which explains why telephone numbers are rarely longer than that!

In other words, working memory is like a whiteboard: a space where we can temporarily write down bits of information in order to cross out, tick off or shuffle the order of that data.

What are some examples of working memory?

Things like;

  • Memorizing a shopping list

  • Following directions to a location

  • Remembering what you're taught in the classroom

These are all examples of where you’d be (subconsciously) using your working memory - or, the ‘mental whiteboard’, as we like to say.

This memory is controlled by a specific gene. It’s called NTSR1, and inside, it contains all the necessary information required, to build the neurotensin receptor. These receptors are vital for a cell, as they allow it to receive chemical signals from the outside. When this receptor is activated, a ‘chain reaction’ begins.

Variations or differences in the gene that encodes this receptor can lead to slight variations and differences in its function and corresponding differences in physiological processes (in this case, working memory).

Small Change in Genetics = Big Changes in Working Memory

The research team set out to investigate whether genetic differences in the NTSR1 gene were associated with working memory performance. For the study, 460 healthy individuals ha their working memory and five genetic variations assessed.

These five genetic variations care called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), and they’re found within the NTSR1 gene.

SNPs are the most common type of genetic differences (or variations): a single change in a single building block of human DNA. The scientists found that two of five SNPs were significantly associated with improved memory. In practical terms, this means that carriers of this rare variant almost always have a much better working memory than those who don’t.

Clearly, it’s great if you have these gene (and in a moment, we’ll show you exactly how to find out if you do. Still, even if you don’t it’s not all bad news, and there are ways you can improve your working memory and cognitive abilities. To do so, you need to learn which variant of these gene is contained in your DNA.

Want To Find Out What Your Genes Say About YOUR Memory?

Now, thanks to cutting-edge technology, it’s possible to find out which variant of the NTSR1 you carry. This will tell you what your genes say about your memory, creativity, problem solving, and various other cognitive traits…

And, more importantly, knowing this information will give you the ‘kick start’ you need to begin improving your memory skills.

Are you a 23andMe or Ancestry.com customer?

To get started, you’ll need to have purchased the 23andMe or Ancestry.com genetic test. Using your raw DNA data, you can find out all about your memory abilities (and other cognitive traits), and our state-of-the-art software will then present you with a powerful science-based and professionally written ‘Action Plan’. You can use this plan to figure out which cognitive functions you need to improve on - and, exactly how to do just that!

Interested in learning more? Click here to find out how to get started.