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Neuropsychologia. 2008 Jan 31;46(2):757-63. Epub 2007 Oct 22.

Planning, decision-making and the COMT rs4818 polymorphism in healthy males.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.


Recent evidence suggests that a synonymous polymorphism within the COMT gene (rs4818 C/G) accounts for a greater variation of COMT activity compared to the functional Val158Met polymorphism. This is the first study on the effects of the rs4818 C/G polymorphism on cognition. One hundred and seven healthy males were tested with the Stockings of Cambridge (SoC) and the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and then grouped according to their COMT rs4818 C/G status into three groups (G/G, C/G, C/C). ANOVAs showed that C/C individuals had the best performance in the SoC, G/G the worse, while C/G were intermediate. G/G individuals had strikingly better performance in the IGT compared to the other two groups and their performances in the two tasks were inversely related. These results show that the rs4818 C/G polymorphism imparts strong and differential effects on PFC functions. Low prefrontal dopamine levels are disadvantageous for planning in non-emotional problem solving but lead to optimal effects in emotionally informed decision-making. While high prefrontal dopamine levels may be advantageous for non-emotional problem solving, they lead to disadvantageous choices when decision-making depends on processing of emotional feedback.

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