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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Nov 1;133(1):287-90. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.04.031. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

A MAOA gene*cocaine severity interaction on impulsivity and neuropsychological measures of orbitofrontal dysfunction: preliminary results.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Granada, Spain; Institute of Neurosciences Federico Olóriz, Centro de Investigacion Biomedica, University of Granada, Spain; School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Electronic address:



Based on previous evidence of a MAOA gene*cocaine use interaction on orbitofrontal cortex volume attrition, we tested whether the MAOA low activity variant and cocaine use severity are interactively associated with impulsivity and behavioral indices of orbitofrontal dysfunction: emotion recognition and decision-making.


72 cocaine dependent individuals and 52 non-drug using controls (including healthy individuals and problem gamblers) were genotyped for the MAOA gene and tested using the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, the Iowa Gambling Task and the Ekman's Facial Emotions Recognition Test. To test the main hypothesis, we conducted hierarchical multiple regression analyses including three sets of predictors: (1) age, (2) MAOA genotype and severity of cocaine use, and (3) the interaction between MAOA genotype and severity of cocaine use. UPPS-P, Ekman Test and Iowa Gambling Task's scores were the outcome measures. We computed the statistical significance of the prediction change yielded by each consecutive set, with 'a priori' interest in the MAOA*cocaine severity interaction.


We found significant effects of the MAOA gene*cocaine use severity interaction on the emotion recognition scores and the UPPS-P's dimensions of Positive Urgency and Sensation Seeking: Low activity carriers with higher cocaine exposure had poorer emotion recognition and higher Positive Urgency and Sensation Seeking.


Cocaine users carrying the MAOA low activity show a greater impact of cocaine use on impulsivity and behavioral measures of orbitofrontal cortex dysfunction.


Cocaine; Emotion recognition; Lack of Premeditation; MAOA gene; Positive Urgency; Sensation Seeking

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