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01-09-2014 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2014

Psychological Research 5/2014

Cognitive control and the COMT Val158Met polymorphism: genetic modulation of videogame training and transfer to task-switching efficiency

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 5/2014
Auteurs:
Lorenza S. Colzato, Wery P. M. van den Wildenberg, Bernhard Hommel

Abstract

The study investigated whether successful transfer of game-based cognitive improvements to untrained tasks might be modulated by preexisting neuro-developmental factors, such as genetic variability related to the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT)—an enzyme responsible for the degradation of dopamine. The COMT Val158Met genotype may differentially affect cognitive stability and flexibility, and we hypothesized that Val/Val homozygous individuals (who possess low prefrontal dopamine levels) show more pronounced cognitive flexibility than Met/-carriers (who possess high prefrontal dopamine levels). We trained participants, genotyped for the COMT Val158Met polymorphism on playing “Half-Life 2”, a first-person shooter game which has been shown to improve cognitive flexibility. Pre-training (baseline) and post-training measures of cognitive flexibility were acquired by means of a task-switching paradigm. As expected, Val/Val homozygous individuals showed larger beneficial transfer effects than Met/-carriers. Our findings support the idea that genetic predisposition modulates transfer effects and that playing first-person shooter games promotes cognitive flexibility in individuals with a suitable genetic predisposition.

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