Adolescent behavioral and neural reward sensitivity: a test of the differential susceptibility theory
SourceTranslational Psychiatry, 6, (2016), article e771
Article / Letter to editor
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PI Group Memory & Emotion
SubjectRadboudumc 7: Neurodevelopmental disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Little is known about the causes of individual differences in reward sensitivity. We investigated gene-environment interactions (GxE) on behavioral and neural measures of reward sensitivity, in light of the differential susceptibility theory. This theory states that individuals carrying plasticity gene variants will be more disadvantaged in negative, but more advantaged in positive environments. Reward responses were assessed during a monetary incentive delay task in 178 participants with and 265 without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), from N=261 families. We examined interactions between variants in candidate plasticity genes (DAT1, 5-HTT and DRD4) and social environments (maternal expressed emotion and peer affiliation). HTTLPR short allele carriers showed the least reward speeding when exposed to high positive peer affiliation, but the most when faced with low positive peer affiliation or low maternal warmth. DAT1 10-repeat homozygotes displayed similar GxE patterns toward maternal warmth on general task performance. At the neural level, DRD4 7-repeat carriers showed the least striatal activation during reward anticipation when exposed to high maternal warmth, but the most when exposed to low warmth. Findings were independent of ADHD severity. Our results partially confirm the differential susceptibility theory and indicate the importance of positive social environments in reward sensitivity and general task performance for persons with specific genotypes.
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