Prefrontal morphology, 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and biased attention for emotional stimuli


* C. G. Beevers, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, A8000 Austin, TX 78712, USA. E-mail:


Biased attention for emotional stimuli has been associated with vulnerability to psychopathology. This study examines the neural substrates of biased attention. Twenty-three adult women completed high-resolution structural imaging followed by a standard behavioral measure of biased attention (i.e. spatial cueing task). Participants were also genotyped for the serotonin transporter-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) gene. Results indicated that lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) morphology was inversely associated with maintained attention for positive and negative stimuli, but only among short 5-HTTLPR allele carriers. No such associations were observed for the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) or the amygdala. Results from this study suggest that brain regions involved in cognitive control of emotion are also associated with attentional biases for emotion stimuli among short 5-HTTLPR allele carriers.