Background: Maternal care (MC) and dopamine modulate brain activity during emotion processing in inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), striatum and amygdala. Reuptake of dopamine from the synapse is performed by the dopamine transporter (DAT), whose abundance is predicted by variation in its gene (DAT 3'VNTR; 10 > 9-repeat alleles). Here, we investigated the interaction between perceived MC and DAT 3'VNTR genotype on brain activity during processing of aversive facial emotional stimuli. Methods: Sixty-one healthy subjects were genotyped for DAT 30VNTR and categorized in low and high MC individuals. They underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a task requiring gender discrimination of facial stimuli with angry, fearful or neutral expressions. Results: An interaction between facial expression, DAT genotype and MC was found in left IFG, such that low MC and homozygosity for the 10-repeat allele are associated with greater activity during processing of fearful faces. This greater activity was also inversely correlated with a measure of emotion control as scored with the Big Five Questionnaire. Moreover, MC and DAT genotype described a double dissociation on functional connectivity between IFG and amygdala. Conclusion: These findings suggest that perceived early parental bonding may interact with DAT 30VNTR genotype in modulating brain activity during emotionally relevant inputs.
- Inferior frontal gyrus
- Maternal care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience