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Keywords:

  • Dopaminergic;
  • genetic polymorphism;
  • heart rate;
  • mirror drawing;
  • procedural memory;
  • recall;
  • stress

Genetic variants that are related to the dopaminergic system have been frequently found to be associated with various neurological and mental disorders. Here, we studied the relationships between some of these genetic variants and some cognitive and psychophysiological processes that are implicated in such disorders. Two single nucleotide polymorphisms were chosen: one in the dopamine D2 receptor gene (rs6277-C957T) and one in the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene (rs4680-Val158Met), which is involved in the metabolic degradation of dopamine. The performance of participants on two long-term memory tasks was assessed: free recall (declarative memory) and mirror drawing (procedural motor learning). Heart rate (HR) was also monitored during the initial trials of the mirror-drawing task, which is considered to be a laboratory middle-stress generator (moderate stress), and during a rest period (low stress). Data were collected from 213 healthy Caucasian university students. The C957T C homozygous participants showed more rapid learning than the T allele carriers in the procedural motor learning task and smaller differences in HR between the moderate- and the low-stress conditions. These results provide useful information regarding phenotypic variance in both healthy individuals and patients.