Variations in the serotonin-transporter gene are associated with attention bias patterns to positive and negative emotion faces

Koraly Pérez-Edgar, Yair Bar-Haim, Jennifer Martin McDermott, Elena Gorodetsky, Colin A. Hodgkinson, David Goldman, Monique Ernst, Daniel S. Pine, Nathan A. Fox

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Abstract

Both attention biases to threat and a serotonin-transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) have been linked to heightened neural activation to threat and the emergence of anxiety. The short allele of 5-HTTLPR may act via its effect on neurotransmitter availability, while attention biases shape broad patterns of cognitive processing. We examined individual differences in attention bias to emotion faces as a function of 5-HTTLPR genotype. Adolescents (N = 117) were classified for presumed SLC6A4 expression based on 5-HTTLPR-low (SS, SLG, or LGLG), intermediate (SLA or LALG), or high (LALA). Participants completed the dot-probe task, measuring attention biases toward or away from angry and happy faces. Biases for angry faces increased with the genotype-predicted neurotransmission levels (low > intermediate > high). The reverse pattern was evident for happy faces. The data indicate a linear relation between 5-HTTLPR allelic status and attention biases to emotion, demonstrating a genetic mechanism for biased attention using ecologically valid stimuli that target socioemotional adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-271
Number of pages3
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume83
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

Cite this

Pérez-Edgar, K., Bar-Haim, Y., McDermott, J. M., Gorodetsky, E., Hodgkinson, C. A., Goldman, D., Ernst, M., Pine, D. S., & Fox, N. A. (2010). Variations in the serotonin-transporter gene are associated with attention bias patterns to positive and negative emotion faces. Biological Psychology, 83(3), 269-271. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2009.08.009