Sustained attention is modulated by the neurotransmitter noradrenaline. The balance of dopamine and noradrenaline in the cortex is controlled by the DBH gene. The principal variant in this gene is a C/T change at position -1021, and the T allele at this locus is hypothesised to result in a slower rate of dopamine to noradrenaline conversion than the C allele. Two hundred participants who were genotyped for the DBH C-1021T marker performed the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART). DBH genotype was found to significantly predict performance; participants with more copies of the T allele made more errors of commission, indicative of lapses in sustained attention. A significant negative correlation was also observed for all participants between errors of commission and mean reaction time. The decrease in noradrenaline occasioned by the T allele may impair sustained attention by reducing participants' ability to remain alert throughout the task and by increasing their susceptibility to distractors.
Trinity College Dublin ->