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Multitasking abilities lie in your genes

Washington, Jan. 8 : Researchers have long studied the connection between cognitive function and the ability to perform well on multiple simultaneous tasks, and recently they went a step further to test a genetic link to multitasking ability.


In their Human Factors paper, Parasuraman and his team hypothesized that individuals with the Met/Met genotype of the Val158Met variant of the Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) gene would perform better in a simulated air-defense task than would people without that genotype.

The presence of the COMT gene has been shown to raise dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which controls executive function.

The authors said that dopamine availability in the PFC appears to be particularly important when task demands are high.

Parasuraman et al. analyze the performance of 99 men and women ages 18 to 38, who were divided into three genotyped groups based on the Val158Met variant.

Over the course of four training blocks, participants controlled six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in low- and high-task-load conditions to destroy enemy targets, prevent enemy incursions, and avoid friendly fire while attending to a communications task.

The researchers did indeed find that participants with the Met/Met genotype of the COMT gene showed more improvement with training and performed better than did those in the other two genotype (Val/Met and Val/Val) groups.

--ANI (Posted on 08-01-2014)

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