COMT Val158Met polymorphism interacts with stressful life events and parental warmth to influence decision making.
ABSTRACT: Both genetic and environmental factors have been shown to influence decision making, but their relative contributions and interactions are not well understood. The present study aimed to reveal possible gene-environment interactions on decision making in a large healthy sample. Specifically, we examined how the frequently studied COMT Val(158)Met polymorphism interacted with an environmental risk factor (i.e., stressful life events) and a protective factor (i.e., parental warmth) to influence affective decision making as measured by the Iowa Gambling Task. We found that stressful life events acted as a risk factor for poor IGT performance (i.e., high reward sensitivity) among Met carriers, whereas parental warmth acted as a protective factor for good IGT performance (i.e., higher IGT score) among Val/Val homozygotes. These results shed some new light on gene-environment interactions in decision making, which could potentially help us understand the underlying etiology of several psychiatric disorders associated with decision making impairment.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Parental warmth has been associated with various child behaviors, from effortful control to callous-unemotional traits. Factors that have been shown to affect parental warmth include heritability and child behavior. However, there is limited knowledge about which specific genes are involved, how they interact with child behavior, how they affect differential parenting, and how they affect fathers. We examined what affects paternal and maternal warmth by focusing on the child's prosocial behavior and parents' genotype, specifically a Valine to Methionine substitution at codon 66 in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene. METHODS:Data was available from a sample of 6.5 year-old twins, consisting of 369 mothers and 663 children and 255 fathers and 458 children. Self-reports were used to assess mothers' and fathers' warmth. Child prosociality was assessed with the other-parent report and experimental assessments. RESULTS:Mothers' warmth was not affected by their BDNF genotype, neither as a main effect nor in an interaction with child prosociality. Fathers with the Met allele scored higher on warmth. Additionally, there was a significant interaction between fathers' BDNF genotype and child prosociality. For fathers with the Met allele there was a positive association between warmth and child prosociality. Conversely, for fathers with the Val/Val genotype there was no association between warmth and child prosociality. Results were repeated longitudinally in a subsample with data on age 8-9 years. A direct within family analysis showed that fathers with the Met allele were more likely than Val/Val carriers to exhibit differential parenting toward twins who differed in their prosocial behavior. The same pattern of findings was found with mother-rated and experimentally assessed prosociality. CONCLUSIONS:These results shed light on the genetic and environmental underpinnings of paternal behavior and differential parenting.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Given neuroimaging evidences of overlap in the circuitries for decision-making and olfactory processing, we examined the hypothesis that impairment in psychophysical tasks of olfaction would independently predict poor performances on Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a laboratory task that closely mimics real-life decision-making, in a US cohort of HIV-infected (HIV+) individuals. METHOD:IGT and psychophysical tasks of olfaction were administered to a Washington DC-based cohort of largely African American HIV+ subjects (N=100), and to a small number of demographically-matched non-HIV healthy controls (N=43) from a different study. Constructs of olfactory ability and decision-making were examined through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Structural equation models (SEMs) were used to evaluate the validity of the path relationship between these two constructs. RESULT:The 100 HIV+ participants (56% female; 96% African Americans; median age = 48 years) had median CD4 count of 576 cells/?l and median HIV RNA viral load <48 copies per milliliter. Majority of HIV+ participants performed randomly throughout the course of IGT tasks, and failed to demonstrate a learning curve. Confirmatory factor analysis provided support for a unidimensional factor underlying poor performances on IGT. Nomological validity for correlations between olfactory ability and IGT performance was confirmed through SEM. Finally, factor scores of olfactory ability and IGT performance strongly predicted 6 months history of drug use, while olfaction additionally predicted hallucinogen use. CONCLUSION:This study suggests that combination of simple, office-based tasks of olfaction and decision-making may identify those HIV+ individuals who are more prone to risky decision-making. This finding may have significant clinical, public health value if joint impairments in olfaction and IGT task correlates with more decreased activity in brain regions relevant to decision-making.
Project description:The factors that influence individual differences in decision making are not yet fully characterized, but convergent evidence is accumulating that implicates serotonin (5-HT) system function. Therefore, both genes and environments that influence serotonin function are good candidates for association with risky decision making. In the present study we examined associations between common polymorphisms in the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4; 5-HTTLPR and rs25531), the experience of childhood trauma and decision making on the Iowa gambling task (IGT) in 391 (64.5% female) healthy Caucasian adults. Homozygosity for the 5-HTTLPR L allele was associated with riskier decision making in the first block of 20 trials (i.e., decision making under ambiguity, p = 0.004). In addition, mean IGT performance was significantly worse in blocks 3-5 (i.e., decision making under risk, p ≤ 0.05) for those participants who reported experiencing higher levels of childhood trauma. Our findings add to the growing evidence that genetic variation in the 5-HT system is associated with individual differences in decision making under ambiguity; and we report that the experience of childhood trauma is associated with relatively poor decision making under risk.
Project description:Decisions made under ambiguity may involve a different genetic architecture than those made under risk. Because gender moderates the effect of genetic polymorphisms on serotonin function and because there are gender differences in decision-making, the present study examined potential gender moderation of associations between polymorphisms in important serotonin system candidate genes (serotonin transporter [SLC6A4] and tryptophan hydroxylase-2 [TPH2]) and performance on a decision-making task (Iowa Gambling Task, IGT) in healthy, adults (N = 188; 62% women). Subjects were genotyped for the well-studied SLC6A4 promoter variant 5-HTTLPR and a TPH2 single nucleotide polymorphism in intron-8 (rs1386438). Genotype at rs1386438 was not associated with performance on the IGT. A significant gender by 5-HTTLPR genotype interaction effect was detected when decision-making was under ambiguity (i.e. the first block of 20 choices), but not under risk (blocks 2-5). Performance on the first block of 20 choices was not correlated with performance on subsequent blocks, supporting the interpretation that early performance on the IGT indexes decision-making under ambiguity, while performance on blocks 2-5 indexes decision-making under risk. These findings suggest that decision-making under ambiguity and risk may have different genetic architectures and that individual differences in decision-making under ambiguity are associated with genetic variation in SLC6A4.
Project description:Individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) exhibit deleterious decision making, negatively impacting their lives. Such aberrant decision making can be quantified using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), which requires choosing between advantageous and disadvantageous options based on different reward/punishment schedules. The mechanisms underlying this behavioral deficit are unknown, but may include the reduced dopamine transporter (DAT) functioning reported in BD patients. Using both human and mouse IGTs, we tested whether reduced DAT functioning would recreate patterns of deficient decision making of BD patients. We assessed the IGT performance of 16 BD subjects (7 female) and 17 healthy control (HC) subjects (12 female). We recorded standard IGT performance measures and novel post-reward and post-punishment decision-making strategies. We characterized a novel single-session mouse IGT using C57BL/6J mice (n = 44). The BD and HC IGT performances were compared with the effects of chronic (genetic knockdown (KD; n = 31) and wild-type (n = 28) mice) and acute (C57BL/6J mice (n = 89) treated with the DAT inhibitor GBR12909) reductions of DAT functioning in mice performing this novel IGT. BD patients exhibited impaired decision making compared with HC subjects. Both the good-performing DAT KD and GBR12909-treated mice exhibited poor decision making in the mouse IGT. The deficit of each population was driven by high-reward sensitivity. The single-session mouse IGT measures dynamic risk-based decision making similar to humans. Chronic and acute reductions of DAT functioning in mice impaired decision-making consistent with poor IGT performance of BD patients. Hyperdopaminergia caused by reduced DAT may impact poor decision making in BD patients, which should be confirmed in future studies.
Project description:The links between emotions, bio-regulatory processes, and economic decision-making are well-established in the context of age-related changes in fluid, real-time, decision competency. The objective of the research reported here is to assess the relative contributions, interactions, and impacts of affective and cognitive intelligence in economic, value-based decision-making amongst older adults. Additionally, we explored this decision-making competency in the context of the neurobiology of aging by examining the neuroanatomical correlates of intelligence and decision-making in an aging cohort. Thirty-nine, healthy, community dwelling older adults were administered the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), an ecologically valid laboratory measure of complex, economic decision-making; along with standardized, performance-based measures of cognitive and emotional intelligence (EI). A smaller subset of this group underwent structural brain scans from which thicknesses of the frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, cingulate cortices and their sub-sections, were computed. Fluid (online processing) aspects of Perceptual Reasoning cognitive intelligence predicted superior choices on the IGT. However, older adults with higher overall emotional intelligence (EI) and higher Experiential EI area/sub-scores learned faster to make better choices on the IGT, even after controlling for cognitive intelligence and its area scores. Thickness of the left rostral anterior cingulate (associated with fluid affective, processing) mediated the relationship between age and Experiential EI. Thickness of the right transverse temporal gyrus moderated the rate of learning on the IGT. In conclusion, our data suggest that fluid processing, which involves "online," bottom-up, cognitive processing, predicts value-based decision-making amongst older adults, while crystallized intelligence, which relies on "offline" previously acquired knowledge, does not. However, only emotional intelligence, especially its fluid "online" aspects of affective processing predicts the rate of learning in situations of complex choice, especially when there is a paucity of cues/information available to guide decision-making. Age-related effects on these cognitive, affective and decision mechanisms may have neuroanatomical correlates, especially in regions that form a subset of the human mirror-neuron and mentalizing systems. While superior decision-making may be stereotypically associated with "smarter people" (i.e., higher cognitive intelligence), our data indicate that emotional intelligence has a significant role to play in the economic decisions of older adults.
Project description:Previous studies have reported that trait anxiety (TA) affects decision making. However, results remain largely inconsistent across studies. The aim of the current study was to further address the interaction between TA and decision making. 304 subjects without depression from a sample consisting of 642 participants were grouped into high TA (HTA), medium TA (MTA) and low TA (LTA) groups based on their TA scores from State Trait Anxiety Inventory. All subjects were assessed with the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) that measures decision making under ambiguity and the Game of Dice Task (GDT) that measures decision making under risk. While the HTA and LTA groups performed worse on the IGT compared to the MTA group, performances on the GDT between the three groups did not differ. Furthermore, the LTA and HTA groups showed different individual deck level preferences in the IGT: the former showed a preference for deck B indicating that these subjects focused more on the magnitude of rewards, and the latter showed a preference for deck A indicating significant decision making impairment. Our findings suggest that trait anxiety has effect on decision making under ambiguity but not decision making under risk and different levels of trait anxiety related differently to individual deck level preferences in the IGT.
Project description:Marijuana (MJ) is the most widely used illicit substance among adolescents and young adults. Frequent MJ use has been associated with impairments in cognitive flexibility and inhibition, both of which play important roles in decision-making. However, the impact of frequent MJ use on decision-making performance is mixed and not well understood. The current study examined the influence of frequent MJ use on risky decision-making in college students, 18-22 years old. Methods: From 2017 to 2019, data was collected from young adult college students (n = 65) consisting of 32 healthy controls (HC) and 33 frequent marijuana users (MJ+). Participants completed the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a measure of risky decision-making, and net IGT scores (advantageous-disadvantageous decisions) were used as a measure of optimal decision-making. Results: The main finding indicated there was a significant effect of group on net IGT scores (p = 0.018), which remained significant when sex was included in the model (p = 0.006), such that MJ+ had lower net IGT scores than HC. Conclusions: These findings highlight potential differences in risky decision-making between MJ+ and HC, but it is uncertain whether these differences are pre-existing and increase vulnerability for frequent MJ use or if they are related to the effects of frequent MJ use on decision-making.
Project description:Impulsivity and decision making are associated on a theoretical level in that impaired planning is a component of both. However, few studies have examined the relationship between measures of decision making and impulsivity in clinical populations. The purpose of this study was to compare cocaine-dependent subjects to controls on a measure of decision making (the Iowa Gambling Task or IGT), a questionnaire measure of impulsivity (the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale or BIS-11) and a measure of behavioural inhibition (the immediate memory task or IMT), and to examine the interrelationship among these measures. Results of the study showed that cocaine-dependent subjects made more disadvantageous choices on the IGT, had higher scores on the BIS and more commission errors on the IMT. Cognitive model analysis showed that choice consistency factors on the IGT differed between cocaine-dependent subjects and controls. However, there was no significant correlation between IGT performance and the BIS total score or subscales or IMT commission errors. These results suggest that in cocaine-dependent subjects there is little overlap between decision making as measured by the IGT and impulsivity/behavioural inhibition as measured by the BIS and IMT.
Project description:Neuroimaging studies demonstrate alterations in fronto-striatal neurocircuitry in gambling disorder (GD) during anticipatory processing, which may influence decision-making impairments. However, to date little is known about fronto-striatal anticipatory processing and emotion-based decision-making. While undergoing neuroimaging, 28 GD and 28 healthy control (HC) participants performed the Monetary Incentive Delay Task (MIDT). Pearson correlation coefficients assessed out-of-scanner Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) performance with the neural activity during prospect (A1) processing on the MIDT across combined GD and HC groups. The HC and GD groups showed no significant difference in out-of-scanner IGT performance, although there was a trend for higher IGT scores in the HC group on the last two IGT trial blocks. Whole-brain correlations across combined HC and GD groups showed that MIDT BOLD signal in the ventral striatum/caudate/ventromedial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate regions during the prospect of winning positively correlated with total IGT scores. The GD group also contained a higher proportion of tobacco smokers, and correlations between neural activations in prospect on the MIDT may relate in part to gambling and/or smoking pathology. In this study, fronto-striatal activity during the prospect of reward and loss on the MIDT was related to decision-making on the IGT, with blunted activation linked to disadvantageous decision-making. The findings from this work are novel in linking brain activity during a prospect-of-reward phase with performance on a decision-making task in individuals with and without GD.