The effect of moderate acute psychological stress on working memory-related neural activity is modulated by a genetic variation in catecholaminergic function in humans.
SourceFrontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 6, (2012), article 16
Article / Letter to editor
Display more detailsDisplay less details
Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
PI Group Memory and Emotion
F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
Subject130 000 Cognitive Neurology & Memory; 130 001 Bridging the gap: hippocampus and memory; 130 026 VENI Hermans, ‘In a fit of fear’; DCN MP - Plasticity and memory; DCN PAC - Perception action and control IGMD 3: Genomic disorders and inherited multi-system disorders; IGMD 3: Genomic disorders and inherited multi-system disorders DCN MP - Plasticity and memory; ONCOL 3: Translational research NCMLS 2: Immune Regulation
Acute stress has an important impact on higher-order cognitive functions supported by the prefrontal cortex (PFC) such as working memory (WM). In rodents, such effects are mediated by stress-induced alterations in catecholaminergic signaling, but human data in support of this notion is lacking. A common variation in the gene encoding Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is known to affect basal catecholaminergic availability and PFC functions. Here, we investigated whether this genetic variation (Val158Met) modulates effects of stress on WM-related neural activity in humans. In a counterbalanced crossover design, 41 healthy young men underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing a numerical N-back WM task embedded in a stressful or neutral context. Moderate psychological stress was induced by a well-controlled procedure involving viewing strongly aversive (versus emotionally neutral) movie material in combination with a self-referencing instruction. Acute stress resulted in genotype-dependent effects on WM performance and WM-related activation in the dorsolateral PFC, with a relatively negative impact of stress in COMT Met-homozygotes as opposed to a relatively positive effect in Val-carriers. A parallel interaction was found for WM-related deactivation in the anterior medial temporal lobe (MTL). Our findings suggest that individuals with higher baseline catecholaminergic availability (COMT Met-homozygotes) appear to reach a supraoptimal state under moderate levels of stress. In contrast, individuals with lower baselines (Val-carriers) may reach an optimal state. Thus, our data show that effects of acute stress on higher-order cognitive functions vary depending on catecholaminergic availability at baseline, and thereby corroborate animal models of catecholaminergic signaling that propose a non-linear relationship between catecholaminergic activity and prefrontal functions.
Upload full text
Use your RU credentials (u/z-number and password) to log in with SURFconext to upload a file for processing by the repository team.