COMT Genotype and Sensory and Sensorimotor Gating in High and Low Hypnotizable Subjects

We investigated the association between hypnotizability, COMT polymorphism, P50 suppression ratio, and prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle response (ASR) in 21 high (HH) and 19 low (LH) hypnotizable subjects. The frequency of Met/Met carriers of COMT polymorphysm was higher in HH than in LH group (33.3% versus 10.6%, p = .049). Increased ASR amplitude and latency and decreased prepulse inhibition at 120 ms lead interval were found in the HH compared to the LH group. The effect of COMT genotype on prepulse inhibition was observed in LH group only. No between-group differences in P50 measures were found. The obtained results suppose the participation of dopamine system in mechanisms of hypnotizability and different allocation of attentional resources in HH and LH subjects.

Hypnotizability and the Peripersonal Space

High hypnotizability is associated with left-sided cerebral asymmetry, which could influence measurement of the Peripersonal Space (PPS). Right-handed participants with high (highs, n = 20), medium (mediums, n = 9), and low hypnotizability scores (lows, n = 20) performed the line bisection test on a computer screen automatically displaced at distances of 30, 60, and 90 cm from the subjects’ eyes. Highs’ results showed rightward bias of the bisection (Relative Error, RE) for all presentation distances. In contrast, in lows RE was displaced leftward at 30 cm and exhibited a progressive rightward shift at 60 and 90 cm, as occurs in the general population. Mediums’ RE values were intermediate between highs’ and lows’ values. Bisection Times (BT) were significantly longer in highs/mediums than in lows. Findings indicate that the highs’ bisection identifies PPS as if it was extrapersonal, but further studies should assess its functional characteristics. The highs/mediums longer BT suggest less efficient sensorimotor performance.

Funding

Research funded by University of Pisa (Fondi di Ateneo, 2013).