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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

July 2014, Vol. 26, No. 7, Pages 1418-1427
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00592)
@ 2014 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Functional Polymorphism of the MAOA Gene Is Associated with Neural Responses to Induced Anger Control
Article PDF (383.21 KB)

Aggressiveness is highly heritable. Recent experimental work has linked individual differences in a functional polymorphism of the monoamine oxidase-A gene (MAOA) to anger-driven aggression. Other work has implicated the dorsal ACC (dACC) in cognitive-emotional control and the amygdala in emotional arousal. The present imaging genetics study investigated dACC and amygdala reactivity to induced anger control as a function of MAOA genotype. A research assistant asked 38 healthy male undergraduates to control their anger in response to an insult by a rude experimenter. Men with the low-expression allele showed increased dACC and amygdala activation after the insult, but men with the high-expression allele did not. Both dACC and amygdala activation independently mediated the relationship between MAOA genotype and self-reported anger control. Moreover, following the insult, men with the high-functioning allele showed functional decoupling between the amygdala and dACC, but men with the low-functioning allele did not. These results suggest that heightened dACC and amygdala activation and their connectivity are neuroaffective mechanisms underlying anger control in participants with the low-functioning allele of the MAOA gene.