Is it common for you to feel unregulated and out of control due to a lack of sleep? Cognitive processing and working memory are both a part of your inhibition control— one of the brains executive functions. However, for most people, sleep deparvation not only causes sleepiness, it also impacts these cognitive functions..
It has been reported that there are inter-individual differences in cognitive responses to sleep deprivation attributed to systemic inter-individual differences in sleep/wake homeostasis or determined by genetic polymorphisms. The influence of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on cognitive responses to sleep deprivation has been mainly observed on tasks involved in different levels of cognition.One way to study executive functioning is with tests like the psychomotor vigilance test (PVT) and the executive Go/noGo inhibition task and also working memory, decision making, and flexibility. T
In this study, researchers explored the influence of 14 SNPs, including COMT gene rs4680, on the performance degradation of sustained attention used these two tests (PVT and Go/noGo taks) during sleep deprivation (continuous wakefulness for 38 h) in 47 healthy subjects. The SNPs selection was based on the studies previously published. In the inhibition Go/noGo task, subjects were required to respond or not to a stimulus on a screen. After the appearance of a fixation cross in the center of the screen for 500 ms, an arrow appeared in the center of the screen for 1 s. Depending on the test instruction, subjects have 2 s to respond when the arrow is pointed out on the right (“Go” response) and not to respond when it is pointed on the left (“noGo“ response). Performance was assessed by calculating the number of Go/nonGO commission errors (ratio). Results showed that rs4680 in the COMT gene creates profiles of high vulnerability or high resilience to sleep deprivation. The subjects with a GG genotype of rs4680 were more sensitive to sleep deprivation than subjects with other genotypes. It is well known that the Met (A allele) allele of rs4680 reduces the enzymatic activity of COMT three-to fourfold relative to the Val (ancestral G allele), leading to increased dopamine availability. The difference in dopamine availability between the genotypes is considered to be one of the reasons for the difference in neurophysiological consequences of sleep deprivation.
There are some limitations in this work, similar to other studies. One consideration, is research that looks at the involving co-factors that modulate the neurobehavioral vulnerability to sleep loss, which is sometimes more influential than the genetic impact, such as physical activity >2 h/week or coffee/energy drink consumption. In addition, future studies could try to recruit a larger population and more diversified profile population (age, gender, lifestyle habits). If you would like to know more about this research, you can read the study here:
Are you interested in learning more about your genetic tendency for the impact of sleep deprivation on inhibition control? You can log in to your Genomelink TRAITS to see this new genetic trait.