The effect of the COMT val158met polymorphism on neural correlates of semantic verbal fluency

  • Axel Krug
  • Valentin Markov
  • Abigail Sheldrick
  • Sören Krach
  • Andreas Jansen
  • Klaus Zerres
  • Thomas Eggermann
  • Tony Stöcker
  • N. Jon Shah
  • Tilo Kircher
Original Paper


Variation in the val158met polymorphism of the COMT gene has been found to be associated with cognitive performance. In functional neuroimaging studies, this dysfunction has been linked to signal changes in prefrontal areas. Given the complex modulation and functional heterogeneity of frontal lobe systems, further specification of COMT gene-related phenotypes differing in prefrontally mediated cognitive performance are of major interest. Eighty healthy individuals (54 men, 26 women; mean age 23.3 years) performed an overt semantic verbal fluency task while brain activation was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). COMT val158met genotype was determined and correlated with brain activation measured with fMRI during the task. Although there were no differences in performance, brain activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus [Brodmann area 10] was positively correlated with the number of val alleles in the COMT gene. COMT val158met status modulates brain activation during the language production on a semantic level in an area related to executive functions.


COMT fMRI Verbal fluency Inferior frontal gyrus BA 10 



This work was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Brain Imaging Centre West, 01GO0204). SK and AJ are supported by The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (01GW0751).

Conflict of interest statement

All authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Krug
    • 1
  • Valentin Markov
    • 2
  • Abigail Sheldrick
    • 2
  • Sören Krach
    • 1
  • Andreas Jansen
    • 1
  • Klaus Zerres
    • 3
  • Thomas Eggermann
    • 3
  • Tony Stöcker
    • 4
  • N. Jon Shah
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Tilo Kircher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyPhilipps-University MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Human GeneticsRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Neuroscience and Biophysics 3, MedicineResearch Center JülichJülichGermany
  5. 5.Central Service Facility “Functional Imaging” at the ICCR-BIOMATRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  6. 6.Institute of PhysicsUniversity of DortmundDortmundGermany

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