Investigating interactive effects of worry and the catechol-o-methyltransferase gene (COMT) on working memory performance.

Citation:
Louis, CC, D'Esposito M, Moser JS.  2021.  Investigating interactive effects of worry and the catechol-o-methyltransferase gene (COMT) on working memory performance., 2021 Jun 25. Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience.

Abstract:

Extant research indicates that worry is associated with reduced working memory. It remains unclear, however, what mechanisms contribute to impaired performance in worriers. Critically, dopamine in the prefrontal cortex heavily influences the stability of mental representations during working memory tasks, yet no research has probed its role in associations between worry and working memory. To address this gap, the current study was designed to examine the moderating role of dopamine on the association between worry and working memory, using the catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) gene as a proxy for basal levels of dopamine. Across four assessments, we examined within- and between-person variation in worry and its interactive effects with COMT to predict working memory performance. Within-person variation in worry interacted with COMT to predict accuracy, such that higher worry across time predicted less accuracy for homozygous Val carriers but not Met carriers. Our findings demonstrate that basal dopamine plays an important role in how increases in worry across time for an individual negatively impact working memory performance.