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Influence of COMT genotype and affective distractors on the processing of self-generated thought

Kilford, EJ; Dumontheil, I; Wood, NW; Blakemore, SJ; (2014) Influence of COMT genotype and affective distractors on the processing of self-generated thought. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci , 10 (6) pp. 777-782. 10.1093/scan/nsu118. Green open access

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Abstract

The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme is a major determinant of prefrontal dopamine levels. The Val(158)Met polymorphism affects COMT enzymatic activity and has been associated with variation in executive function and affective processing. This study investigated the effect of (COMT) genotype on the flexible modulation of the balance between processing self-generated and processing stimulus-oriented information, in the presence or absence of affective distractors. Analyses included 124 healthy adult participants, who were also assessed on standard working memory (WM) tasks. Relative to Val carriers, Met homozygotes made fewer errors when selecting and manipulating self-generated thoughts. This effect was partly accounted for by an association between COMT genotype and visuospatial WM performance. We also observed a complex interaction between the influence of affective distractors, genotype and sex on task accuracy: male, but not female, participants showed sensitivity to the affective distractors that was dependent on COMT genotype. This was not accounted for by WM performance. This study provides novel evidence of the role of dopaminergic genetic variation on the ability to select and manipulate self-generated thoughts. The results also suggest sexually dimorphic effects of COMT genotype on the influence of affective distractors on executive function.

Type: Article
Title: Influence of COMT genotype and affective distractors on the processing of self-generated thought
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsu118
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsu118
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author (2014). Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: COMT, affective processing, behavioural genetics, executive function, prefrontal cortex
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Movement Neurosciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1447199
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