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Keywords:

  • imaging genetics;
  • prefrontal cortex (PFC);
  • emotional Stroop test;
  • response inhibition;
  • NoGo-anteriorization (NGA)

Abstract

Stathmin 1 (STMN1) is a neuronal growth associated protein (NGAP) that is involved in microtubule dynamics and plays an important role in neurite outgrowth and synaptic plasticity. It is highly expressed in the amygdala, but also in different areas of the neocortex including the frontal lobe. Based on previous findings regarding an impact of STMN1 on fear processing, the present study aimed at extending the evidence concerning its functional role to include the domain of executive (frontal lobe) functions. To this end, a group of 59 healthy volunteers stratified for the single-nucleotide polymorphism rs182455 of the STMN1 gene was examined by means of three experimental paradigms probing different aspects of cognitive–affective functioning. Event-related potential measures of cognitive response control, emotional interference processing, and action monitoring were analyzed. STMN1 genotype significantly affected the NoGo-anteriorization (NGA)—a neurophysiological marker of cognitive response control associated with medial prefrontal cortex activation—as well as the modulation of the P300 by the valence of emotional Stroop stimuli. In both cases, carriers of the rs182455 C-allele showed altered cognitive–affective processing; effects appeared to be more pronounced in females. Our findings indicate a functional impact of STMN1 on cognitive and affective control processes, thereby complementing previous evidence on its role in fear processing. Based on these results, an influence of STMN1 should be considered in studies aiming at the etiopathogenesis of a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders with dysfunctional networking, including neurodegenerative disorders as well as schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, and ADHD. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.