Genetic variation in the serotonin transporter gene influences the ERP old/new effect during recognition memory


Recognition memory is defined as the ability to recognize a previously encountered stimulus and has been associated with spatially and temporally distinct event-related potentials (ERPs). Allelic variations of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) have recently been shown to impact memory performance. Common variants of the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5HTTLPR) of the SLC6A4 gene result in long (l) and short (s) allelic variants with carriers of the s allele having lowered transcriptional efficiency. Thus, the current study examines the effects polymorphisms of the SLC6A4 gene have on performance and ERP amplitudes commonly associated with recognition memory. Electroencephalogram (EEG), genetic, and behavioral data were collected from sixty participants as they performed an item and source memory recognition task. In both tasks, participants studied and encoded 200 words, which were then mixed with 200 new words during retrieval. Participants were monitored with EEG during the retrieval portion of each memory task. EEG electrodes were grouped into four ROIs, left anterior superior, right anterior superior, left posterior superior, and right posterior superior. ERP mean amplitudes during hits in the item and source memory task were compared to correctly recognizing new items (correct rejections). Results show that s-carriers have decreased mean hit amplitudes in both the right anterior superior ROI 1000–1500 ms post stimulus during the source memory task and the left anterior superior ROI 300–500 ms post stimulus during the item memory task. These results suggest that individual differences due to genetic variation of the serotonin transporter gene influences recognition memory.



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