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Neuropsychologia. 2012 Dec;50(14):3554-63. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.09.042. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

The Met-genotype of the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism is associated with reduced Stroop interference in elderly.

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1
Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors (IfADo), Dortmund, Germany. gajewski@ifado.de

Abstract

Aging is accompanied by impairments of executive functions that rely on the functional integrity of fronto-striatal networks. This integrity is modulated by the release of neurotrophins like the brain-derived-neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Here, we investigate effects of the functional BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on interference processing in 131 healthy elderly subjects using event-related potentials (ERPs). In a Stroop task, participants had to indicate the name or the colour of colour-words while colour was either compatible or incompatible with the name. We show that susceptibility to Stroop-interference is affected by the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism: the Met-allele carriers showed better performance and enhanced N450 in interference trials. Other processes necessary to prepare and allocate cognitive resources to a particular task were not affected by BDNF Val66Met polymorphism, underlining the specificity of the observed effects. The observed performance and ERP difference is possibly due to dopamine related effects of BDNF in fronto-striatal networks, where it putatively mediates a shift in the balance of the direct and indirect pathway involved in inhibitory functions.

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