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Poster F69

Effects of BDNF and COMT genetic polymorphism on rule-plus-exception category learning at two stages of the menstrual cycle

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Shreeansha Bhattarai1, Mateja Perovic1, Cathlin Han1, Janice Hou1, Yao Chen1, Michael Mack1; 1University of Toronto

Recent decades have seen an increased focus on the influence of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) genetic polymorphisms on human cognition. As BDNF supports neuronal growth and plasticity and COMT regulates dopaminergic function, genetically determined variations in their baseline availability may regulate learning and memory. Because variations in both genes interact with the ovarian hormone estradiol to affect cognition, and category learning performance has been shown to vary across the menstrual cycle, we asked participants to complete a rule-plus-exception category learning task at the low- and high-estradiol points of their cycle. We found effects of BDNF polymorphism on categorization of exceptional and rule-following category item, with Met allele carriers outperforming Val homozygotes. Furthermore, COMT Val homozygotes showed slower response times for category prototype items relative to Met carriers. These results provide first evidence of BDNF and COMT effects on rule-plus-exception category learning, and deepen our understanding of menstrual cycle-dependent changes in category learning performance.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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April 13–16  |  2024