Relations between catechol-O-methyltransferase Val158Met genotype and inhibitory control development in childhood

Dev Psychobiol. 2020 Mar;62(2):181-190. doi: 10.1002/dev.21901. Epub 2019 Aug 1.


The Val158Met rs4680 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene, primarily involved in dopamine breakdown within prefrontal cortex, has shown relations with inhibitory control (IC) in both adults and children. However, little is known about how COMT genotype relates to developmental trajectories of IC throughout childhood. Here, our study explored the effects of the COMT genotype (Val/Val, Val/Met, and Met/Met) on IC trajectories between the ages of 5 and 10 years. Children (n = 222) completed a Go/Nogo task at ages 5, 7, and 10; IC was characterized using signal detection theory to examine IC performance (d') and response strategy (RS) (criterion). COMT genotype was not related to initial levels of IC performance and RS at age 5 or change in RS from ages 5 to 10. In contrast, COMT genotype was related to change in IC performance between 5 and 10 years. While Val/Val children did not differ from Val/Met children in development of IC performance, children with the Met/Met genotype exhibited more rapid development of IC performance when compared with Val/Met peers. These results suggest that COMT genotype modulates the development of IC performance in middle childhood.

Keywords: COMT; Go/Nogo task; childhood development; inhibitory control; rs4680; signal detection theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology


  • COMT protein, human
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase