Association between the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism and manual aiming control in healthy subjects

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 23;9(6):e99698. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099698. eCollection 2014.


Background: Prefrontal dopamine is catabolized by the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme. Current evidence suggests that the val/met single nucleotide polymorphism in the COMT gene can predict the efficiency of executive cognition in humans. Individuals carrying the val allele perform more poorly because less synaptic dopamine is available.

Methodology/principal findings: We investigated the influence of the COMT polymorphism on motor performance in a task that requires different executive functions. We administered a manual aiming motor task that was performed under four different conditions of execution by 111 healthy participants. Participants were grouped according to genotype (met/met, met/val, val/val), and the motor performance among groups was compared. Overall, the results indicate that met/met carriers presented lower levels of peak velocity during the movement trajectory than the val carriers, but met/met carriers displayed higher accuracy than the val carriers.

Conclusions/significance: This study found a significant association between the COMT polymorphism and manual aiming control. Few studies have investigated the genetics of motor control, and these findings indicate that individual differences in motor control require further investigation using genetic studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies*
  • Healthy Volunteers*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*


  • COMT protein, human
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase

Grants and funding

Funding was provided by grant INCT-MM (FAPEMIG: CBB-APQ-00075- 584 09/CNPq 573646/2008–2); FAPEMIG - incentive program for publication in indexed journals. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.