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Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:414351. doi: 10.1155/2014/414351. Epub 2014 Mar 19.

Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) genotype affects age-related changes in plasticity in working memory: a pilot study.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Rudower Chaussee 18, 12489 Berlin, Germany ; Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Charité Mitte, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany ; Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Potsdam, Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469 Potsdam, Germany.
2
Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Rudower Chaussee 18, 12489 Berlin, Germany ; Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Charité Mitte, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
3
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Charité Mitte, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
4
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Charité Mitte, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany ; Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
5
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Charité Mitte, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany ; Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Potsdam, Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469 Potsdam, Germany ; Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Recent work suggests that a genetic variation associated with increased dopamine metabolism in the prefrontal cortex (catechol-O-methyltransferase Val158Met; COMT) amplifies age-related changes in working memory performance. Research on younger adults indicates that the influence of dopamine-related genetic polymorphisms on working memory performance increases when testing the cognitive limits through training. To date, this has not been studied in older adults.

METHOD:

Here we investigate the effect of COMT genotype on plasticity in working memory in a sample of 14 younger (aged 24-30 years) and 25 older (aged 60-75 years) healthy adults. Participants underwent adaptive training in the n-back working memory task over 12 sessions under increasing difficulty conditions.

RESULTS:

Both younger and older adults exhibited sizeable behavioral plasticity through training (P < .001), which was larger in younger as compared to older adults (P < .001). Age-related differences were qualified by an interaction with COMT genotype (P < .001), and this interaction was due to decreased behavioral plasticity in older adults carrying the Val/Val genotype, while there was no effect of genotype in younger adults.

DISCUSSION:

Our findings indicate that age-related changes in plasticity in working memory are critically affected by genetic variation in prefrontal dopamine metabolism.

PMID:
24772423
PMCID:
PMC3977538
DOI:
10.1155/2014/414351
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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