Noradrenergic genotype predicts lapses in sustained attention

Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.3). 11/2008; 47(2):591-4. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.10.003
Source: PubMed


Sustained attention is modulated by the neurotransmitter noradrenaline. The balance of dopamine and noradrenaline in the cortex is controlled by the DBH gene. The principal variant in this gene is a C/T change at position -1021, and the T allele at this locus is hypothesised to result in a slower rate of dopamine to noradrenaline conversion than the C allele. Two hundred participants who were genotyped for the DBH C-1021T marker performed the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART). DBH genotype was found to significantly predict performance; participants with more copies of the T allele made more errors of commission, indicative of lapses in sustained attention. A significant negative correlation was also observed for all participants between errors of commission and mean reaction time. The decrease in noradrenaline occasioned by the T allele may impair sustained attention by reducing participants' ability to remain alert throughout the task and by increasing their susceptibility to distractors.

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Available from: Ciara M Greene, Jun 24, 2015
    • "Because there is a strong influence of NE on sustained attention, genetic variants of noradrenergic genes may be associated with sustained attention phenotypes. Three studies have described associations between polymorphisms of DBH and sustained attention (Bellgrove et al., 2006; Greene et al., 2009; Kieling, Genro, Hutz, & Rohde, 2008). Another study that investigated ADRA2A revealed an association with response time variability of CPT (Cho et al., 2008), a finding that was later replicated to some extent (Kim et al., 2013). "
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    • "Sustained attention, the ability to maintain alertness and focus over time (Sturm, 1996), is a cognitive process, whose intact functioning is fundamental to the functioning of more complex forms of attention, such as selective or divided attention (Sturm et al., 1997) and other forms of cognition, such as memory and reasoning (Craik, 2006). Essential to the maintenance of goal-directed behavior (Robertson, 2003; Robertson and Garavan, 2004), the ability to sustain attention under conditions of routine and low external demand has been found to be related to absentmindedness or everyday slips of memory and attention (Robertson et al., 1997; Smilek et al., 2010) and this capacity is measurable by a test, the Sustained Attention to Response Test (SART) (Robertson et al., 1997), which has been shown to be closely associated with the brain's noradrenaline system (Bellgrove et al., 2006; Greene et al., 2009). "
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