Sure, those shots of tequila (and that forbidden cigarette) are the main cause of your headache and unsteady stomach. But believe it or not, the strength of your hangover is also dictated in large part by your genes. An Australian research team found that, among women, nearly 45 percent of the difference in hangover severity from one person to the next is determined by genetic factors. Genes also account for a big part of your ability to “hold” your alcohol without getting sloppy, the research suggests. So blame your mom and dad the next time you wake up feeling like roadkill. You also have your parents (and grandparents) to thank for the five weird traits on the slides ahead.
Two recent studies found the brains of Democrats and Republicans are genetically hardwired in different ways. While liberals tend to carry genes that increase the value their brains place on connectedness and societal harmony, the noodles of conservatives are predisposed to value family and small social groups. Republicans also have larger amygdala’s, which light up in response to threats, while Democrat’s brains are better at managing uncertainty.
Roughly 20 to 30 percent of all people are genetically coded for the “photic sneeze reflex,” studies have found. What does that mean? When your eyes are exposed to sudden, bright sources of light, you sneeze. Spend a couple minutes in a dark bathroom, then step out into bright sun or overhead lights. If you achoo, you carry this dominant gene. (Researchers aren’t sure why this happens.)
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Socially gifted people tend to share a specific, common trait that leads to “mild” rule-breaking behavior, according to a Michigan State University study. If you were the type who snuck out to drink with friends in high school, or you have no qualms about speeding, chances are you share this “popularity” gene with your parents, the research indicates.
About 70 percent of the population carries a gene that allows them to taste bitter flavors, research shows. For the other 30 percent, aspects of bitterness just don’t register at all. According to the study’s authors, the ability to taste certain types of bitter flavors may have helped people avoid poisonous plants or berries in the wild.
Catch a weird whiff while peeing after a plate of asparagus? You’re among the roughly 20 percent of people who carry a genetic mutation that allows them to smell the sulfur compounds that result from ingesting the vegetable. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t figured out why asparagus lights up about one out of five people’s nose sensors.