The ADORA2A gene encodes the adenosine A(2A) receptor that is highly expressed in the striatum where it plays a role in modulating glutamatergic and dopaminergic transmission. Glutamatergic signaling has been suggested to play a pivotal role in cognitive functions related to the pre-attentive processing of external stimuli. Yet, the precise molecular mechanism of these processes is poorly understood. Therefore, we aimed to investigate whether ADORA2A gene variation has modulating effects on visual pre-attentive sensory memory processing. Studying two polymorphisms, rs5751876 and rs2298383, in 199 healthy control subjects who performed a partial-report paradigm, we find that ADORA2A variation is associated with differences in the efficiency of pre-attentive sensory memory sub-processes. We show that especially the initial visual availability of stimulus information is rendered more efficiently in the homozygous rare genotype groups. Processes related to the transfer of information into working memory and the duration of visual sensory (iconic) memory are compromised in the homozygous rare genotype groups. Our results show a differential genotype-dependent modulation of pre-attentive sensory memory sub-processes. Hence, we assume that this modulation may be due to differential effects of increased adenosine A(2A) receptor signaling on glutamatergic transmission and striatal medium spiny neuron (MSN) interaction.
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