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Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 1;61(5):626-32. Epub 2006 Oct 2.

Variations in the catechol O-methyltransferase polymorphism and prefrontally guided behaviors in adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Center for Neurobehavorial Development, University of Minnesota--Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.



The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene codes for an enzyme that degrades prefrontal cortex (PFC) synaptic dopamine. Of two identified alleles (Met and Val), the Met allele results in COMT activity that is up to 4 times less pronounced than that conferred by the Val allele, resulting in greater PFC dopamine concentrations. Met-Met homozygotes perform better than individuals who possess the Val allele on PFC-mediated cognitive tasks. These genotypic variations and their associations with executive functions have been described in adults and prepubescent children, but there is a paucity of research assessing these relations in adolescent samples.


In this study, 70 children aged 9-17 were genotyped for COMT and completed measures of working memory, attention, fine motor coordination, and motor speed.


COMT genotype modulated all but the motor speed measures. The Val-Met genotype was optimal for performance in this adolescent sample.


Results are discussed within the context of developmental changes in the dopaminergic system during adolescence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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