COMT genotype is associated with plasticity in sense of body ownership: a pilot study

  • Motoyasu Honma
  • Takuya Yoshiike
  • Hiroki Ikeda
  • Kenichi Kuriyama
Original Article

Abstract

The sense of body ownership constantly adapts to new environments, and awareness of a distinction between oneself and others is a fundamental ability. However, it remains unclear whether plasticity in the sense of body ownership is dependent on genetic factors. The present study investigated the influence of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met genotype on illusory learning of a sense of body ownership and dissociation. 76 healthy Japanese participants experienced the rubber hand illusion (RHI), which is produced by sensory integration of conflicting modalities, with the intent to experimentally alter objective perceived locations and subjective ownership ratings. We found that Val/Val homozygous participants had more intense RHI experiences than Val/Met heterozygous and Met homozygous participants. Furthermore, RHI sensation was correlated with a dissociative personality trait in Val/Val homozygous participants. Our findings indicate an interaction between COMT genotype, RHI sensation, and dissociative personality traits: Val/Val genotypes were associated with RHI induction and greater vulnerability to dissociation. The findings suggest that Val/Val homozygous individuals may be more flexible regarding self-attribution/body ownership and that biological factors may contribute to reduced awareness regarding the distinction between self and others.

Keywords

Body ownership Plasticity Rubber hand illusion COMT genotype Dissociative personality trait 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Adult Mental HealthCenter of Neurology and Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health, NationalTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyShowa University School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryShiga University of Medical ScienceOtsuJapan
  4. 4.Research Center for Overwork-Related Disorders, National Institute of Occupational Safety and HealthKawasakiJapan

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