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Neuropsychologia. 2010 Apr;48(5):1483-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.01.018. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Dopamine transporter regulates the enhancement of novelty processing by a negative emotional context.

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  • 1Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior (IR3C), University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


The dopaminergic (DA) system has been recently related the emotional modulation of cognitive processes. Moreover, patients with midbrain DA depletion, such as Parkinson's Disease (PD), have shown diminished reactivity during unpleasant events. Here, we examined the role of DA in the enhancement of novelty processing during negative emotion. Forty healthy volunteers were genotyped for the dopamine transporter (DAT) gene SLC6A3 or DAT1 and performed an auditory-visual distraction paradigm in negative and neutral emotional context conditions. 9R- individuals, associated to a lesser striatal DA display, failed to show increased distraction during negative emotion, but experienced an enhancement of the early phase of the novelty-P3 brain response, associated to the evaluation of novel events, in the negative relative to the neutral context. However, 9R+ individuals (associated to larger striatal DA display) showed larger distraction during negative emotion and larger amplitudes of the novelty-P3, irrespective of the condition. These results suggest a blunted reactivity to novelty during negative emotion in 9R- individuals due to a lesser DA display and stronger activation of the representation of novel events in the 9R+ group, due to a larger DA availability, thus reaching a ceiling effect in the neutral context condition with no further enhancement during negative emotion. The present results might help to understand the functional implications of dopamine in some neuropsychiatric disorders.

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