Association of COMT val158met and DRD2 G>T genetic polymorphisms with individual differences in motor learning and performance in female young adults.
ABSTRACT: Individuals learn new skills at different rates. Given the involvement of corticostriatal pathways in some types of learning, variations in dopaminergic transmission may contribute to these individual differences. Genetic polymorphisms of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme and dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2) genes partially determine cortical and striatal dopamine availability, respectively. Individuals who are homozygous for the COMT methionine (met) allele show reduced cortical COMT enzymatic activity, resulting in increased dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex as opposed to individuals who are carriers of the valine (val) allele. DRD2 G-allele homozygotes benefit from a higher striatal dopamine level compared with T-allele carriers. We hypothesized that individuals who are homozygous for COMT met and DRD2 G alleles would show higher rates of motor learning. Seventy-two young healthy females (20 ± 1.9 yr) performed a sensorimotor adaptation task and a motor sequence learning task. A nonparametric mixed model ANOVA revealed that the COMT val-val group demonstrated poorer performance in the sequence learning task compared with the met-met group and showed a learning deficit in the visuomotor adaptation task compared with both met-met and val-met groups. The DRD2 TT group showed poorer performance in the sequence learning task compared with the GT group, but there was no difference between DRD2 genotype groups in adaptation rate. Although these results did not entirely come out as one might predict based on the known contribution of corticostriatal pathways to motor sequence learning, they support the role of genetic polymorphisms of COMT val158met (rs4680) and DRD2 G>T (rs 1076560) in explaining individual differences in motor performance and motor learning, dependent on task type.
Project description:Complex cognitive tasks such as visual working memory (WM) involve networks of interacting brain regions. Several neurotransmitters, including an appropriate dopamine concentration, are important for WM performance. A number of gene polymorphisms are associated with individual differences in cognitive task performance. COMT, for example, encodes catechol-o-methyl transferase the enzyme primarily responsible for catabolizing dopamine in the prefrontal cortex. Striatal dopamine function, linked with cognitive tasks as well as habit learning, is influenced by the Taq-Ia polymorphism of the DRD2/ANKK1 gene complex; this gene influences the density of dopamine receptors in the striatum. Here, we investigated the effects of these polymorphisms on a WM task requiring the maintenance of 4 or 6 items over delay durations of 1 or 5 seconds. We explored main effects and interactions between the COMT and DRD2/ANKK1-Taq-Ia polymorphisms on WM performance. Participants were genotyped for COMT (Val(158)Met) and DRD2/ANKK1-Taq-Ia (A1+, A1-) polymorphisms. There was a significant main effect of both polymorphisms. Participants' WM reaction times slowed with increased Val loading such that the Val/Val homozygotes made the slowest responses and the Met/Met homozygotes were the fastest. Similarly, WM reaction times were slower and more variable for the DRD2/ANKK1-Taq-Ia A1+ group than the A1- group. The main effect of COMT was only apparent in the DRD2/ANKK1-Taq-Ia A1- group. These findings link WM performance with slower dopaminergic metabolism in the prefrontal cortex as well as a greater density of dopamine receptors in the striatum.
Project description:Dopaminergic genes play an important role in cognitive function. DRD2 and DARPP-32 dopamine receptor gene polymorphisms affect striatal dopamine binding potential, and the Val158Met single-nucleotide polymorphism of the COMT gene moderates dopamine availability in the pFC. Our study assesses the role of these gene polymorphisms on performance in two rule-based category learning tasks. Participants completed unidimensional and conjunctive rule-based tasks. In the unidimensional task, a rule along a single stimulus dimension can be used to distinguish category members. In contrast, a conjunctive rule utilizes a combination of two dimensions to distinguish category members. DRD2 C957T TT homozygotes outperformed C allele carriers on both tasks, and DARPP-32 AA homozygotes outperformed G allele carriers on both tasks. However, we found an interaction between COMT and task type where Met allele carriers outperformed Val homozygotes in the conjunctive rule task, but both groups performed equally well in the unidimensional task. Thus, striatal dopamine binding may play a critical role in both types of rule-based tasks, whereas prefrontal dopamine binding is important for learning more complex conjunctive rule tasks. Modeling results suggest that striatal dopaminergic genes influence selective attention processes whereas cortical genes mediate the ability to update complex rule representations.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Prefrontal dopamine is catabolized by the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme. Current evidence suggests that the val/met single nucleotide polymorphism in the COMT gene can predict the efficiency of executive cognition in humans. Individuals carrying the val allele perform more poorly because less synaptic dopamine is available. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We investigated the influence of the COMT polymorphism on motor performance in a task that requires different executive functions. We administered a manual aiming motor task that was performed under four different conditions of execution by 111 healthy participants. Participants were grouped according to genotype (met/met, met/val, val/val), and the motor performance among groups was compared. Overall, the results indicate that met/met carriers presented lower levels of peak velocity during the movement trajectory than the val carriers, but met/met carriers displayed higher accuracy than the val carriers. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study found a significant association between the COMT polymorphism and manual aiming control. Few studies have investigated the genetics of motor control, and these findings indicate that individual differences in motor control require further investigation using genetic studies.
Project description:Knowledge about the functional status of the frontal cortex in infancy is limited. This study investigated the effects of polymorphisms in four dopamine system genes on performance in a task developed to assess such functioning, the Freeze-Frame task, at 9 months of age. Polymorphisms in the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) genes are likely to impact directly on the functioning of the frontal cortex, whereas polymorphisms in the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) and dopamine transporter (DAT1) genes might influence frontal cortex functioning indirectly via strong frontostriatal connections. A significant effect of the COMT valine(1)methionine (Val 158 Met) polymorphism was found. Infants with the Met/Met genotype were significantly less distractible than infants with the Val/Val genotype in Freeze-Frame trials presenting an engaging central stimulus. In addition, there was an interaction with the DAT1 3; variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism; the COMT effect was present only in infants who did not have two copies of the DAT1 10-repeat allele. These findings indicate that dopaminergic polymorphisms affect selective aspects of attention as early as infancy and further validate the Freeze-Frame task as a frontal cortex task.
Project description:BACKGROUND: This study explored the association between three measures of working memory ability and genetic variation in a range of catecholamine genes in a sample of children with ADHD. METHODS: One hundred and eighteen children with ADHD performed three working memory measures taken from the CANTAB battery (Spatial Span, Delayed-match-to-sample, and Spatial Working Memory). Associations between performance on working memory measures and allelic variation in catecholamine genes (including those for the noradrenaline transporter [NET1], the dopamine D4 and D2 receptor genes [DRD4; DRD2], the gene encoding dopamine beta hydroxylase [DBH] and catechol-O-methyl transferase [COMT]) were investigated using regression models that controlled for age, IQ, gender and medication status on the day of test. RESULTS: Significant associations were found between performance on the delayed-match-to-sample task and COMT genotype. More specifically, val/val homozygotes produced significantly more errors than did children who carried a least one met allele. There were no further associations between allelic variants and performance across the other working memory tasks. CONCLUSIONS: The working memory measures employed in the present study differed in the degree to which accurate task performance depended upon either the dynamic updating and/or manipulation of items in working memory, as in the spatial span and spatial working memory tasks, or upon the stable maintenance of representations, as in the delay-match-to-sample task. The results are interpreted as evidence of a relationship between tonic dopamine levels associated with the met COMT allele and the maintenance of stable working memory representations required to perform the delayed-match-to-sample-task.
Project description:Identifying mechanisms through which individual differences in reward learning emerge offers an opportunity to understand both a fundamental form of adaptive responding as well as etiological pathways through which aberrant reward learning may contribute to maladaptive behaviors and psychopathology. One candidate mechanism through which individual differences in reward learning may emerge is variability in dopaminergic reinforcement signaling. A common functional polymorphism within the catechol-O-methyl transferase gene (COMT; rs4680, Val(158) Met) has been linked to reward learning, where homozygosity for the Met allele (linked to heightened prefrontal dopamine function and decreased dopamine synthesis in the midbrain) has been associated with relatively increased reward learning. Here, we used a probabilistic reward learning task to asses response bias, a behavioral form of reward learning, across three separate samples that were combined for analyses (age: 21.80 ± 3.95; n = 392; 268 female; European-American: n = 208). We replicate prior reports that COMT rs4680 Met allele homozygosity is associated with increased reward learning in European-American participants (? = 0.20, t = 2.75, P < 0.01; ?R(2) = 0.04). Moreover, a meta-analysis of 4 studies, including the current one, confirmed the association between COMT rs4680 genotype and reward learning (95% CI -0.11 to -0.03; z = 3.2; P < 0.01). These results suggest that variability in dopamine signaling associated with COMT rs4680 influences individual differences in reward which may potentially contribute to psychopathology characterized by reward dysfunction.
Project description:Fluid intelligence (g(f)) influences performance across many cognitive domains. It is affected by both genetic and environmental factors. Tasks tapping g(f) activate a network of brain regions including the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), the presupplementary motor area/anterior cingulate cortex (pre-SMA/ACC), and the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). In line with the "intermediate phenotype" approach, we assessed effects of a polymorphism (val(158)met) in the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene on activity within this network and on actual task performance during spatial and verbal g(f) tasks. COMT regulates catecholaminergic signaling in prefrontal cortex. The val(158) allele is associated with higher COMT activity than the met(158) allele. Twenty-two volunteers genotyped for the COMT val(158)met polymorphism completed high and low g(f) versions of spatial and verbal problem-solving tasks. Our results showed a positive effect of COMT val allele load upon the blood oxygen level-dependent response in LPFC, pre-SMA/ACC, and IPS during high g(f) versus low g(f) task performance in both spatial and verbal domains. These results indicate an influence of the COMT val(158)met polymorphism upon the neural circuitry supporting g(f). The behavioral effects of val allele load differed inside and outside the scanner, consistent with contextual modulation of the relation between COMT val(158)met genotype and g(f) task performance.
Project description:The COMT gene modulates dopamine levels in prefrontal cortex with Met allele carriers having lower COMT enzyme activity and, therefore, higher dopamine levels compared to Val/Val homozygotes. Concordantly, Val/Val homozygotes tend to perform worse and display increased (interpreted as inefficient) frontal activation in certain cognitive tasks. In a sample of 209 participants, we test the hypothesis that Met carriers will be advantaged in a decision-making task that demands sequencing exploratory and exploitive choices to minimize uncertainty about the reward structure in the environment. Previous work suggests that optimal performance depends on limited cognitive resources supported by prefrontal systems. If so, Met carriers should outperform Val/Val homozygotes, particularly under dual-task conditions that tax limited cognitive resources. In accord with these a priori predictions, Met carriers were more resilient in the face of cognitive load, continuing to explore in a sophisticated manner. We fit computational models that embody sophisticated reflective and simple reflexive strategies to further evaluate participants' exploration behavior. The Ideal Actor model reflectively updates beliefs and plans ahead, taking into account the information gained by each choice and making choices that maximize long-term payoffs. In contrast, the Naïve Reinforcement Learning (RL) model instantiates the reflexive account of choice, in which the values of actions are based only on the rewards experienced so far. Its beliefs are updated reflexively in response to observed changes in rewards. Converging with standard analyses, Met carriers were best characterized by the Ideal Actor model, whereas Val/Val homozygotes were best characterized by the Naive RL model, particularly under dual-task conditions.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Impulsivity is a multidimensional construct which has been associated with dopaminergic neurotransmission. Nonetheless, until this moment, few studies addressed the relationship between different types of impulsivity and the single nucleotide polymorphism caused by a substitution of valine (val) with methionine (met) in the 158 codon of the Catechol-o-Methyltransferase gene (COMT-val158met). The present study aimed to investigate the association between val158met COMT polymorphism and impulsive behavior measured by two neuropsychological tests.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>We administered two neuropsychological tests, a Continuous Performance Task and the Iowa Gambling Task were applied to 195 healthy participants to characterize their levels of motor, attentional and non-planning impulsivity. Then, subjects were grouped by genotype, and their scores on impulsivity measures were compared. There were no significant differences between group scores on attentional and motor impulsivity. Those participants who were homozygous for the met allele performed worse in the Iowa Gambling Task than val/val and val/met subjects.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Our results suggest that met allele of val158met COMT polymorphism is associated with poor performance in decision-making/cognitive impulsivity task. The results reinforce the hypothesis that val and met alleles of the val158met polymorphism show functional dissociation and are related to different prefrontal processes.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To determine whether intervention-induced physical activity (PA) changes in sedentary older adults differed according to dopamine-related genotype. DESIGN:Randomized clinical trial (Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Trial (2010-13)). SETTING:Multicenter study, 8 U.S. LOCATIONS: PARTICIPANTS:Volunteer sample of sedentary adults aged 70 to 89 at risk of disability (N=1635). INTERVENTIONS:Structured PA versus health education (HE) for an average of 2.6 years. MEASUREMENTS:Single-nucleotide polymorphisms of dopamine-related genes (dopamine receptor (DR) D1, DRD2, DRD3, and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT)) were assessed. Average moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) was calculated using accelerometry (min/d) at baseline and 6, 12, and 24 months. Between-arm MVPA differences according to genotype and genotype with square root-transformed MVPA separately according to arm were tested, stratified according to race, and adjusted for multiple comparisons. RESULTS:White participants in the PA arm (n=513) had higher average square root transformed MVPA (4.91±1.91)than those in the HE arm (n=538) (4.51±1.82) (p=.001). Between-arm differences were greater for DRD2 Met/Met (high dopamine; HE: 4.76±1.80, PA: 5.53±1.60, p=.03) than Val/Val (low dopamine; HE: 4.58±1.92, PA: 4.81±1.83, p=.16); results were similar for COMT. In the PA arm, DRD2 Met/Met was associated with higher average MVPA (5.39±2.00) than Met/Val (4.46±2.51) (p=.01) and Val/Val (4.65±2.71) (p=.01). There were no associations for other genes. Associations were not significant in blacks but followed similar trends. CONCLUSION:Higher dopamine signaling may support changes in PA during an intervention. The role of dopamine-related pathways in promoting PA participation and enhancing response to interventions in sedentary older adults should be studied. TRIAL REGISTRATION:clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01072500.