Associations between serotonin transporter gene promoter region (5-HTTLPR) polymorphism and gaze bias for emotional information.
The serotonin transporter promoter region polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) is associated with neural response to negative images in brain regions involved in the experience of emotion. However, the behavioral implications of this sensitivity have been studied far less extensively. The current study used eye-tracking methodology to examine how individuals genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR, including the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs25531, allocated attention during prolonged (30-s) exposure to face stimuli depicting positive and negative emotion. Short 5-HTTLPR allele carriers and carriers of the long allele with guanine at the sixth nucleotide (S/LG) displayed a stronger gaze bias (total fixation time, number of fixations, mean fixation length) for positive than for sad, threat, or neutral stimuli. In contrast, those homozygous for the long 5-HTTLPR allele with adenine at the sixth nucleotide (LA) viewed the emotion stimuli in an unbiased fashion. Time course analyses indicated no initial 5-HTTLPR group differences; however, S/LG 5-HTTLPR allele carriers were more likely than LA 5-HTTLPR homozygotes to direct gaze toward happy than toward sad stimuli over time. This bias toward positive stimuli during the later stages of information processing likely reflects a strategic effort to downregulate heightened reactivity to negative stimuli among 5-HTTLPR S/LG allele carriers.
Beevers, CG; Marti, CN; Lee, H-J; Stote, DL; Ferrell, RE; Hariri, AR; Telch, MJ
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