Here’s a new addition to a rapidly growing list of findings for the valine-to-methionine substitution in the COMT gene (rs4680). The paper, “Effects of the Val158Met catechol-O-methyltransferase polymorphism on cortical structure in children and adolescents” by Shaw and colleagues at the NIMH [doi:10.1038/mp.2008.121] finds that when genotype was used as a regressor for cortical thickness measures in children (8-14 years of age) significant associations were found in the right inferior frontal gyrus and the right superior/middle temporal gyrus (in both areas, the met/met group had thicker cortex). The team notes that the findings in the frontal cortex were expected – as many others have found associations of COMT with this brain area using other imaging modalities. However, the temporal lobe finds are something new. No speculations on the mechanisms/implications are provided by the researchers on this new finding, but known interconnectivities of these two brain regions exist – perhaps supporting aspects of language, memory and/or other cognitive processes?
Perhaps the findings provide a clue to an important role that genes may play in the development of cognitive function.