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Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2012 Dec;12(4):678-91. doi: 10.3758/s13415-012-0108-8.

Genetic polymorphisms of the dopamine and serotonin systems modulate the neurophysiological response to feedback and risk taking in healthy humans.

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Department of Experimental Psychology & Psychopharmacology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Genetic differences in the dopamine and serotonin systems have been suggested as potential factors underlying interindividual variability in risk taking and in brain activation during the processing of feedback. Here, we studied the effects of dopaminergic (dopamine transporter [DAT1], catecholamine-O-methyltransferase val158met [COMT]) and serotonergic (serotonin transporter [5HTTLPR]) polymorphisms on risk taking and brain responses following feedback in 60 healthy female subjects. The subjects completed a well-established experimental gambling paradigm while an electroencephalogram was recorded. During the task, risk-taking behavior and prefrontal brain responses (feedback-related negativity [FRN]) following monetary gains and losses were assessed. FRN amplitudes were enhanced for nine-repeat-allele carriers of the DAT1 and short-allele carriers of 5HTTLPR, which are both presumably linked to less transporter activity and higher neurotransmitter levels. Moreover, nine-repeat DAT1 carriers displayed a trend toward increased risk taking in general, whereas 5HTTLPR short-allele carriers showed decreased risk taking following gains. COMT val158met genotype was unrelated to FRN amplitude and average risk taking. However, COMT met/met carriers showed a pronounced feedback P3 amplitude independent of valence, and a gradual increase in risk taking during the gambling task. In sum, the present findings underline the importance of genetic variability in the dopamine and serotonin systems regarding the neurophysiology of feedback processing.

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