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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

Expression selection – an exemplary item assessing attribution of facial affective expression.
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Figure 2: Expression selection – an exemplary item assessing attribution of facial affective expression.

Mentions: Expression selection – Attribution of facial affective expressions: Following the previous question the child was shown three facial expressions of Loulou (corresponding to the three options given in the earlier question). For example, “can you show me how Loulou looks now after the children laughed at him/her?” (see Figure 2). A correct (matching the situation) answer was rated 3. Incorrect responses received a score between 2 and 0, depending on the degree of dissimilarity; previous research has shown that emotional expressions can be ordered in a circular manner based on the similarity in their different facial configurations (anger, disgust, happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, anger; Susskind et al., 2007). Incorrect answers were therefore scored according to the degree of difference between the face chosen and the correct face on this circumplex (e.g., anger and disgust involve two relatively similar facial configurations and confusing them would incur the score 2; in contrast, confusing the very different expressions of fear and disgust would incur the score 0).


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)

Expression selection – an exemplary item assessing attribution of facial affective expression.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 2: Expression selection – an exemplary item assessing attribution of facial affective expression.
Mentions: Expression selection – Attribution of facial affective expressions: Following the previous question the child was shown three facial expressions of Loulou (corresponding to the three options given in the earlier question). For example, “can you show me how Loulou looks now after the children laughed at him/her?” (see Figure 2). A correct (matching the situation) answer was rated 3. Incorrect responses received a score between 2 and 0, depending on the degree of dissimilarity; previous research has shown that emotional expressions can be ordered in a circular manner based on the similarity in their different facial configurations (anger, disgust, happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, anger; Susskind et al., 2007). Incorrect answers were therefore scored according to the degree of difference between the face chosen and the correct face on this circumplex (e.g., anger and disgust involve two relatively similar facial configurations and confusing them would incur the score 2; in contrast, confusing the very different expressions of fear and disgust would incur the score 0).

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