Söderqvist S, Matsson H, Peyrard-Janvid M, Kere J, Klingberg T
J Cogn Neurosci 26 (1) 54-62 [2014-01-00; online 2013-09-05]
Studying the effects of cognitive training can lead to finding better treatments, but it can also be a tool for investigating factors important for brain plasticity and acquisition of cognitive skills. In this study, we investigated how single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and ratings of intrinsic motivation were associated to interindividual differences in improvement during working memory training. The study included 256 children aged 7-19 years who were genotyped for 13 SNPs within or near eight candidate genes previously implicated in learning: COMT, SLC6A3 (DAT1), DRD4, DRD2, PPP1R1B (DARPP32), MAOA, LMX1A, and BDNF. Ratings on the intrinsic motivation inventory were also available for 156 of these children. All participants performed at least 20 sessions of working memory training, and performance during the training was logged and used as the outcome variable. We found that two SNPs, rs1800497 and rs2283265, located near and within the dopamine receptor 2 (DRD2) gene, respectively, were significantly associated with improvements during training (p < .003 and p < .0004, respectively). Scores from a questionnaire regarding intrinsic motivation did not correlate with training outcome. However, we observed both the main effect of genotype at those two loci as well as the interaction between genotypes and ratings of intrinsic motivation (perceived competence). Both SNPs have previously been shown to affect DRD2 receptor density primarily in the BG. Our results suggest that genetic variation is accounting for some interindividual differences in how children acquire cognitive skills and that part of this effect is also seen on intrinsic motivation. Moreover, they suggest that dopamine D2 transmission in the BG is a key factor for cognitive plasticity.
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