Dissociative catecholaminergic modulation of visual attention: differential effects of Catechol-O-Methyltransferase and Dopamine Beta-Hydroxylase genes on visual attention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

  • Nir Shalev
  • Signe Vangkilde
  • Matt J. Neville
  • Elizabeth M. Tunbridge
  • Anna C. Nobre

Abstract

Visual attention enables us to prioritise behaviourally relevant visual information while ignoring distraction. The neural networks supporting attention are modulated by two catecholamines, dopamine and noradrenaline. The current study investigated the effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms in two catecholaminergic genes - COMT (Val158Met) and DBH (444 G/A) - on individual differences in attention functions. Participants (n = 125) were recruited from the Oxford Biobank by genotype-based recall. They were tested on a continuous performance task (sustained attention), a Go/No-Go task (response inhibition), and a task assessing attentional selection in accordance with the Theory of Visual Attention (TVA). We found a significant effect of DBH genotype status on the capacity to maintain attention over time (sustained attention) as measured by the continuous performance task. Furthermore, we demonstrated a significant association between COMT genotype status and effective threshold of visual perception in attentional selection as estimated based on the TVA task performance. No other group differences in attention function were found with respect to the studied genotypes. Overall, our findings provide novel experimental evidence that: (i) dopaminergic and noradrenergic genotypes have dissociable effects on visual attention; (ii) either insufficient or excessive catecholaminergic activity may have equally detrimental effects on sustained attention.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-189
Number of pages15
JournalNeuroscience
Volume412
Early online date10 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • COMT, DBH, attentional selection, catecholamines, individual differences, sustained attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas