Monday, December 10, 2012

What Child is this?

This is my new favorite version of this song. An mp3 can be downloaded from here. The text is great, but what I really love is Greensleeves (the music). It has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs and this version was masterfully done.

For whatever reason, music is not at the center of my religious experience. I like music and have some training (9 years of viola which I haven't done for 10 years now), but I don't usually find that music contributes much to my spiritual experiences. For example, I like watching General Conference afterwards by skipping the songs and focusing on the talks, where I feel the spirit more. I'm weird and I totally understand that music is important for many and in some contexts it has been for me. Just not generally.

One specific exception has always been Christmas music. I love Christmas time, and the music always makes me think more about the Savior, His life, and what He has done for me. I hope you enjoyed this song as much as I do.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Genetics of Binge Drinking

There is an interesting article that just came out in PNAS by Prof. Gunter Schumann. To the BBC he states:

We now understand the chain of action: how our genes shape this function in our brains and how that, in turn, leads to human behaviour.We found that the RASGRF-2 gene plays a crucial role in controlling how alcohol stimulates the brain to release dopamine, and hence trigger the feeling of reward. So, if people have a genetic variation of the RASGRF-2 gene, alcohol gives them a stronger sense of reward, making them more likely to be heavy drinkers. (source)

And the BBC article continues:

He said more work was needed to prove this theory - the study only looked at young teenage boys, making it difficult to assess a link with long-term drinking patterns.

It is a preliminary association (ie the study design was not explicit for the finding they made), though the functional work (animal model) looks promising.

In my own family history there is strong evidence of alcoholism, and binge drinking as well. Findings like these make me want to have my genome sequenced. But other reasons, money being a prohibiting factor anyway, keep me from doing so. Its just cool when we can combine this kind of information to understand our genes.