Genetic variation in the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene (COMT) can influence cognitive function, and this effect may depend on developmental stage. Using a large representative British birth cohort, we investigated the effect of COMT on cognitive function (verbal and non-verbal) at ages 8 and 15 years taking into account the possible modifying effect of pubertal stage. Five functional COMT polymorphisms, rs6269, rs4818, rs4680, rs737865 and rs165599 were analysed. Associations between COMT polymorphisms and cognition were tested using regression and latent variable structural equation modelling (SEM). Before correction for multiple testing, COMT rs737865 showed association with reading comprehension, verbal ability and global cognition at age 15 years in pubescent boys only. Although there was some evidence for age- and sex-specific effects of the COMT rs737865 none remained significant after correction for multiple testing. Further studies are necessary in order to make firmer conclusions.
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology