COMT Gene and Personality Traits

The COMT gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called catechol-O-methyltransferase. In the brain, catechol-O-methyltransferase helps break down certain neurotransmitters - chemical messengers that conduct signals from one nerve cell to another. Catechol-O-methyltransferase is particularly important in an area at the front of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which organizes and coordinates information from other parts of the brain. This region is involved with personality, planning, inhibition of behaviors, abstract thinking, emotion, and working (short-term) memory. To function efficiently, the prefrontal cortex requires signaling by neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Catechol-O-methyltransferase helps maintain appropriate levels of these neurotransmitters in this part of the brain.