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Neuropsychologia. 2015 Oct;77:242-52. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.08.028. Epub 2015 Sep 1.

Event-related potentials in performance monitoring are influenced by the endogenous opioid system.

Author information

1
Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit, Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 5, A-1010 Vienna, Austria. Electronic address: daniela.pfabigan@univie.ac.at.
2
Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit, Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 5, A-1010 Vienna, Austria.
3
Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit, Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 5, A-1010 Vienna, Austria; Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University of Zurich, Lenggstrasse 31, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland.
4
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Haraldsgatan 1, SE-40530 Gothenburg, Sweden.
5
Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit, Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 5, A-1010 Vienna, Austria. Electronic address: claus.lamm@univie.ac.at.

Abstract

Recent research suggests that not only the dopamine neurotransmitter system but also the endogenous opioid system is involved in performance monitoring and the generation of prediction error signals. Heightened performance monitoring is also associated with psychopathology such as internalizing disorders. Therefore, the current study investigated the potential link between the functional opioid peptide prodynorphin (PDYN) 68 bp VNTR genetic polymorphism and neuronal correlates of performance monitoring. To this end, 47 healthy participants genotyped for this polymorphism, related to high-, intermediate-, and low-expression levels of PDYN, performed a choice-reaction task while their electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. On the behavioural level, no differences between the three PDYN groups could be observed. EEG data, however, showed significant differences. High PDYN expression individuals showed heightened neural error processing indicated by higher ERN amplitudes, compared to intermediate and low expression individuals. Later stages of error processing, indexed by late Pe amplitudes, and stimulus-driven conflict processing, indexed by N2 amplitudes, were not affected by PDYN genotype. The current results corroborate the notion of an indirect effect of endogenous opioids on performance monitoring, probably mediated by the mesencephalic dopamine system. Overall, enhanced ERN amplitudes suggest a hyper-active performance monitoring system in high PDYN expression individuals, and this might also be an indicator of a higher risk for internalizing disorders.

KEYWORDS:

ERN; Late Pe; Mesencephalic dopamine system; Opioid system; Prodynorphin (PDYN); Reward prediction error signals

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