Dopaminergic Modulation of Cognitive Preparation for Overt Reading: Evidence from the Study of Genetic Polymorphisms

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Choosing and implementing the rules for contextually adequate behavior depends on frontostriatal interactions. Observations in Parkinson's disease and pharmacological manipulations of dopamine transmission suggest that these corticobasal loops are modulated by dopamine. To determine, therefore, the physiological contributions of dopamine to task-rule-related processing, we performed a cue-target fMRI reading paradigm in 71 healthy participants and investigated the effects of COMT Val158Met, DAT1 VNTR 9/10, and DRD2/ANKK1 polymorphisms. The DRD2/ANKK1 polymorphism did not affect results. Intermediate prefrontal dopamine concentrations in COMT Val158Met heterozygotes facilitated preparatory interactions between the mesial prefrontal cortex and the left striatum during preparation for overt reading. To our knowledge, this is the first report of an inverted U-shaped curve modulation of cognition-related brain activity by prefrontal dopamine levels. In contrast, a linear effect of COMT Val158Met and DAT1 VNTR 9/10 polymorphisms on preparatory activity in the left inferior frontal gyrus pointed to a negative interaction between tonic lateral prefrontal and phasic subcortical dopamine. The COMT Val158Met polymorphism affected also feedforward and feedback processing in the sensorimotor speech system. Our results suggest that dopamine modulates corticobasal interactions on both the cortical and subcortical level but differently depending on the specific cognitive subprocesses involved.

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