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The impact of Catechol-O-Methyl transferase on working memory in psychometrically identified schizotypy

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jessica Kaczorowski (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Advisor
Thomas Kwapil

Abstract: Patients with schizophrenia often exhibit impairment in working memory that is influenced by dopamine availability in the prefrontal cortex. Dopamine availability in the prefrontal cortex is regulated in part by the activity of the Catechol-O-Methyl transferase (COMT) gene. The COMT gene contains a functional polymorphism that results in a Valine (Val) to Methionine (Met) amino acid substitution that impacts dopamine availability. COMT impacts working memory performance in patients with schizophrenia such that Val allele load is associated with impaired working memory performance. The present study extended this literature by examining the relationship between COMT and spatial working memory (SWM), and their interactions, in psychometrically identified positive and negative schizotypy in a nonclinically ascertained sample of young adults. As hypothesized, negative schizotypy was associated with the Val allele in an allele dependent fashion. In addition, negative, but not positive, schizotypy was generally associated with deficits in SWM performance. Contrary to hypotheses, poorer SWM was not associated with Val allele load. Additionally, COMT generally did not moderate the relations between SWM and negative schizotypy. The findings support the idea that the neurodevelopmental vulnerability for schizophrenia is expressed across a continuum of impairment referred to as schizotypy, the construct validity of a multidimensional model of schizotypy, and the use of psychometric screening inventories as promising tools to help understand the etiology and development of schizophrenia.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Language: English
Date: 2012
Keywords
COMT, Catechol-O-Methyl transferase gene, Neurodevelopment, Schizophrenia, Schizotypy, Working memory
Subjects
Schizophrenia $x Etiology
Schizophrenia $x Genetic aspects