Genetic variation in dopamine availability modulates the self-reported level of action control in a sex-dependent manner

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2019 Jul 31;14(7):759-768. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsz049.


Although procrastination is a widespread phenomenon with significant influence on our personal and professional life, its genetic foundation is somewhat unknown. An important factor that influences our ability to tackle specific goals directly instead of putting them off is our ability to initiate cognitive, motivational and emotional control mechanisms, so-called metacontrol. These metacontrol mechanisms have been frequently related to dopaminergic signaling. To gain deeper insight into the genetic components of procrastination, we examined whether genetically induced differences in the dopaminergic system are associated with interindividual differences in trait-like procrastination, measured as decision-related action control (AOD). Analyzing the data of 278 healthy adults, we found a sex-dependent effect of TH genotype on AOD. Interestingly, only in women, T-allele carriers showed lower AOD values and were therefore more likely to procrastinate. Additionally, we investigated whether differences in the morphology and functional connectivity of the amygdala that were previously associated with AOD happen to be related to differences in the TH genotype and thus to differences in the dopaminergic system. However, there was no significant amygdala volume or connectivity difference between the TH genotype groups. Therefore, this study is the first to suggest that genetic, anatomical and functional differences affect trait-like procrastination independently.

Keywords: TH genotype; action control; dopamine; sex differences; structural and functional MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Self Report*


  • Dopamine