BDNF val66met genotype and schizotypal personality traits interact to influence probabilistic association learning

Ashley Jayne Skilleter, Cynthia Shannon Weickert, Ahmed Abdelhalim Moustafa, Rasha Gendy, Mico Chan, Nur Arifin, Philip Bowden Mitchell, Thomas Wesley Weickert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) val66met polymorphism rs6265 influences learning and may represent a risk factor for schizophrenia. Healthy people with high schizotypal personality traits display cognitive deficits that are similar to but not as severe as those observed in schizophrenia and they can be studied without confounds of antipsychotics or chronic illness. How genetic variation in BDNF may impact learning in individuals falling along the schizophrenia spectrum is unknown. We predicted that schizotypal personality traits would influence learning and that schizotypal personality-based differences in learning would vary depending on the BDNF val66met genotype. Eighty-nine healthy adults completed the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ) and a probabilistic association learning test. Blood samples were genotyped for the BDNF val66met polymorphism. An ANOVA was performed with BDNF genotype (val homozygotes and met-carriers) and SPQ score (high/low) as grouping variables and probabilistic association learning as the dependent variable. Participants with low SPQ scores (fewer schizotypal personality traits) showed significantly better learning than those with high SPQ scores. BDNF met-carriers displaying few schizotypal personality traits performed best, whereas BDNF met-carriers displaying high schizotypal personality traits performed worst. Thus, the BDNF val66met polymorphism appears to influence probabilistic association learning differently depending on the extent of schizotypal personality traits displayed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-142
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume274
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

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