Journal article

MAOA-L carriers are better at making optimal financial decisions under risk

Genes can affect behaviour towards risks through at least two distinct neurocomputational mechanisms: they may affect the value assigned to different risky options, or they may affect the way in which the brain adjudicates between options based on their value. We combined methods from neuroeconomics and behavioural genetics to investigate the impact that the genes encoding for monoamine oxidase-A (MAOA), the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) have on these two computations. Consistent with previous literature, we found that carriers of the MAOA-L polymorphism were more likely to take financial risks. Our computational choice model, rooted in established decision theory, showed that MAOA-L carriers exhibited such behaviour because they are able to make better financial decisions under risk, and not because they are more impulsive. In contrast, we found no behavioural or computational differences among the 5-HTT and DRD4 polymorphisms.


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