April 14, 2021

Motivational learning biases are differentially modulated by genetic determinants of striatal and prefrontal dopamine function

Dopaminergic neurotransmission plays a pivotal role in appetitively motivated behavior in mammals, including humans. Notably, action and valence are not independent in motivated tasks, and it is particularly difficult for humans to learn the inhibition of an action to obtain a reward. We have previously observed that the carriers of the DRD2/ANKK1 TaqIA A1 allele, that has been associated with reduced striatal dopamine D2 receptor expression, showed a diminished learning performance when required to learn response inhibition to obtain rewards, a finding that was replicated in two independent cohorts. In the present study, we first report a replication of this finding in a third independent cohort of 99 participants. Interestingly, after combining all three cohorts (total N = 281), exploratory analyses regarding the COMT Val108/158Met polymorphism suggest that homozygotes for the Met allele, which has been linked to higher prefrontal dopaminergic tone, show a lower learning bias. Our results corroborate the importance of genetic variability of the dopaminergic system in individual learning differences of action-valence interaction and, furthermore, suggest that motivational learning biases are differentially modulated by genetic determinants of striatal and prefrontal dopamine function.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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