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Dopamine D4 receptor polymorphism and sex interact to predict children's affective knowledge.

Ben-Israel S, Uzefovsky F, Ebstein RP, Knafo-Noam A - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Previous studies found that cognitive empathy and ToM are heritable, yet little is known regarding the specific genes involved in individual variability in affective knowledge.The findings suggest a significant interaction between sex and the DRD4-III polymorphism, replicated in both age groups.The results support the importance of DRD4-III polymorphism and sex differences to social development.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel ; Department of Psychology, Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo Tel Aviv, Israel.

ABSTRACT
Affective knowledge, the ability to understand others' emotional states, is considered to be a fundamental part in efficient social interaction. Affective knowledge can be seen as related to cognitive empathy, and in the framework of theory of mind (ToM) as affective ToM. Previous studies found that cognitive empathy and ToM are heritable, yet little is known regarding the specific genes involved in individual variability in affective knowledge. Investigating the genetic basis of affective knowledge is important for understanding brain mechanisms underlying socio-cognitive abilities. The 7-repeat (7R) allele within the third exon of the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4-III) has been a focus of interest, due to accumulated knowledge regarding its relevance to individual differences in social behavior. A recent study suggests that an interaction between the DRD4-III polymorphism and sex is associated with cognitive empathy among adults. We aimed to examine the same association in two childhood age groups. Children (N = 280, age 3.5 years, N = 283, age 5 years) participated as part of the Longitudinal Israel Study of Twins. Affective knowledge was assessed through children's responses to an illustrated story describing different emotional situations, told in a laboratory setting. The findings suggest a significant interaction between sex and the DRD4-III polymorphism, replicated in both age groups. Boy carriers of the 7R allele had higher affective knowledge scores than girls, whereas in the absence of the 7R there was no significant sex effect on affective knowledge. The results support the importance of DRD4-III polymorphism and sex differences to social development. Possible explanations for differences from adult findings are discussed, as are pathways for future studies.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

An illustration of the four emotional situations described in the story.
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Figure 1: An illustration of the four emotional situations described in the story.

Mentions: The story depicts emotional situations relevant to children’s lives, involving story character Loulou (matched to the participating child’s gender). Five situations (Ribordy et al., 1988) eliciting different emotions were examined: happiness (Loulou gets a long wished-for present), fear (a sudden darkness and a tree branch that appears like someone’s hand touching the window), anger (Loulou is given a present in appreciation for his/her help, but then the giver changes his mind and requests the present back), sadness (Loulou is laughed-at by his/her friends after failing to play a game successfully), and disgust (Loulou finds a worm in his/her apple), (see Figure 1). The four negative emotions were used in the current investigations following up on Knafo et al. (2009), in consideration of the differences between perceiving negative emotions of the other (Roberts and Strayer, 1996; Simpson et al., 2003; Eisenberg et al., 2014) and perceiving other’s positive emotions.


Dopamine D4 receptor polymorphism and sex interact to predict children's affective knowledge.

Ben-Israel S, Uzefovsky F, Ebstein RP, Knafo-Noam A - Front Psychol (2015)

An illustration of the four emotional situations described in the story.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4477057&req=5

Figure 1: An illustration of the four emotional situations described in the story.
Mentions: The story depicts emotional situations relevant to children’s lives, involving story character Loulou (matched to the participating child’s gender). Five situations (Ribordy et al., 1988) eliciting different emotions were examined: happiness (Loulou gets a long wished-for present), fear (a sudden darkness and a tree branch that appears like someone’s hand touching the window), anger (Loulou is given a present in appreciation for his/her help, but then the giver changes his mind and requests the present back), sadness (Loulou is laughed-at by his/her friends after failing to play a game successfully), and disgust (Loulou finds a worm in his/her apple), (see Figure 1). The four negative emotions were used in the current investigations following up on Knafo et al. (2009), in consideration of the differences between perceiving negative emotions of the other (Roberts and Strayer, 1996; Simpson et al., 2003; Eisenberg et al., 2014) and perceiving other’s positive emotions.

Bottom Line: Previous studies found that cognitive empathy and ToM are heritable, yet little is known regarding the specific genes involved in individual variability in affective knowledge.The findings suggest a significant interaction between sex and the DRD4-III polymorphism, replicated in both age groups.The results support the importance of DRD4-III polymorphism and sex differences to social development.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel ; Department of Psychology, Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo Tel Aviv, Israel.

ABSTRACT
Affective knowledge, the ability to understand others' emotional states, is considered to be a fundamental part in efficient social interaction. Affective knowledge can be seen as related to cognitive empathy, and in the framework of theory of mind (ToM) as affective ToM. Previous studies found that cognitive empathy and ToM are heritable, yet little is known regarding the specific genes involved in individual variability in affective knowledge. Investigating the genetic basis of affective knowledge is important for understanding brain mechanisms underlying socio-cognitive abilities. The 7-repeat (7R) allele within the third exon of the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4-III) has been a focus of interest, due to accumulated knowledge regarding its relevance to individual differences in social behavior. A recent study suggests that an interaction between the DRD4-III polymorphism and sex is associated with cognitive empathy among adults. We aimed to examine the same association in two childhood age groups. Children (N = 280, age 3.5 years, N = 283, age 5 years) participated as part of the Longitudinal Israel Study of Twins. Affective knowledge was assessed through children's responses to an illustrated story describing different emotional situations, told in a laboratory setting. The findings suggest a significant interaction between sex and the DRD4-III polymorphism, replicated in both age groups. Boy carriers of the 7R allele had higher affective knowledge scores than girls, whereas in the absence of the 7R there was no significant sex effect on affective knowledge. The results support the importance of DRD4-III polymorphism and sex differences to social development. Possible explanations for differences from adult findings are discussed, as are pathways for future studies.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus