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Biol Mood Anxiety Disord. 2013 Feb 1;3(1):3. doi: 10.1186/2045-5380-3-3.

Genetic moderation of the association between regulatory focus and reward responsiveness: a proof-of-concept study.

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1
Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA. elena.goetz@duke.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recent studies implicate individual differences in regulatory focus as contributing to self-regulatory dysfunction, particularly not responding to positive outcomes. How such individual differences emerge, however, is unclear. We conducted a proof-of-concept study to examine the moderating effects of genetically driven variation in dopamine signaling, a key modulator of neural reward circuits, on the association between regulatory focus and reward cue responsiveness.

METHOD:

Healthy Caucasians (N=59) completed a measure of chronic regulatory focus and a probabilistic reward task. A common functional genetic polymorphism impacting prefrontal dopamine signaling (COMT rs4680) was evaluated.

RESULTS:

Response bias, the participants' propensity to modulate behavior as a function of reward, was predicted by an interaction of regulatory focus and COMT genotype. Specifically, self-perceived success at achieving promotion goals predicted total response bias, but only for individuals with the COMT genotype (Val/Val) associated with relatively increased phasic dopamine signaling and cognitive flexibility.

CONCLUSIONS:

The combination of success in promotion goal pursuit and Val/Val genotype appears to facilitate responding to reward opportunities in the environment. This study is among the first to integrate an assessment of self-regulatory style with an examination of genetic variability that underlies responsiveness to positive outcomes in goal pursuit.

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