COMT val158Met and executive control: A test of the benefit of specific deficits to translational research

Angus W. MacDonald, Cameron S Carter, Janine D. Flory, Robert E. Ferrell, Stephen B. Manuck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The role of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) val158met in prefrontal cortical deficits associated with the liability to schizophrenia remains controversial. This study evaluated 464 healthy adult participants using three measures of executive functions in working memory: a 3-back version of the N-back continuous performance task (CPT) and two variants of the AX-CPT. The interpretability of N-back performance was confounded by possible generalized deficits, whereas the AX variants included internal controls for uncovering specific deficits. There was no relationship between the COMT genotype and N-back performance, whereas val/val individuals had a specific deficit on a dot-pattern version of the AX-CPT. In this case, a specific executive function known as context processing appeared to be compromised. These data suggest that the interpretability gained by including task manipulations to uncover specific deficits can enhance associations between cognitive and genetic levels of analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-312
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Catechol-O-methyltransferase
  • COMT
  • Context processing
  • Prefrontal cortical deficits
  • Psychometric confound
  • Schizophrenia
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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