Effects of l-Tyrosine on working memory and inhibitory control are determined by DRD2 genotypes: A randomized controlled trial

Cortex. 2016 Sep;82:217-224. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.06.010. Epub 2016 Jun 23.


l-Tyrosine (TYR), the precursor of dopamine (DA), has been shown to enhance facets of cognitive control in situations with high cognitive demands. However some previous outcomes were mixed: some studies reported significant improvements, while other did not. Given that TYR increases DA level in the brain, we investigated, in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design, whether the C957T genotypes of a functional synonymous polymorphism in the human dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) gene (rs6277) contribute to individual differences in the reactivity to TYR administration and whether this factor predicts the magnitude of TYR-induced performance differences on inhibiting behavioral responses in a stop-signal task and working memory (WM) updating in a N-back task. Our findings show that T/T homozygotes (i.e., individuals potentially associated with lower striatal DA level) showed larger beneficial effects of TYR supplementation than C/C homozygotes (i.e., individuals potentially associated with higher striatal DA level), suggesting that genetically determined differences in DA function may explain inter-individual differences in response to TYR supplementation. These findings reinforce the idea that genetic predisposition modulates the effect of TYR in its role as cognitive enhancer.

Keywords: DRD2; Dopamine; Individual differences; Tyrosine; Working memory.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Tyrosine / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult


  • DRD2 protein, human
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Tyrosine