Correlation between errors on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the availability of striatal dopamine transporters in healthy volunteers

Correlation between errors on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and the availability of striatal dopamine transporters in healthy volunteers

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J Psychiatry Neurosci 2010;35(2):90-94

Pei Chun Hsieh, MD; Tzung Lieh Yeh, MD; I Hui Lee, MD; Hui Chun Huang, MD; Po See Chen, MD, PhD; Yen Kuang Yang, MD; Nan Tsing Chiu, MD; Ru Band Lu, MD; Mei-Hsiu Liao, MS

Hsieh, Yeh, Lee, Huang, Chen, Yang, Lu — Department of Psychiatry, National Cheng Kung University Hospital and Dou-liou Branch; Chiu — Department of Nuclear Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital; Lu — Institute of Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan; Liao — Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, Atomic Energy Council, Executive Yuan, Taoyun, Taiwan

Abstract

Background: Although studies have indicated that the frontal lobe plays an important role in performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and that basal ganglia play a specific role in frontal lobe function, the role of striatal dopamine (DA) activity in performance on the WCST remains unclear.

Methods: We assessed the relation between the availability of striatal dopamine transporters (DATs) and performance on the WCST as a measure of executive function in healthy individuals. We approximated the availability of DATs in 53 healthy volunteers aged 19–61 years by use of single photon emission computed tomography with technetium-99m (99mTc)-TRODAT-1 as the ligand. The WCST was administered to all participants.

Results: The availability of DAT was significantly negatively correlated with perseverative errors on the WCST, both before and after adjustment for body mass index (rbefore = –0.39, p = 0.004; rafter = –0.39, p = 0.005).

Limitations: This was an association study; thus, a causal relation between DAT availability and performance cannot be confirmed.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that striatal DAT availability may play a role in executive function as measured by the WCST.


Submitted Jan. 21, 2009; Revised June 29, Aug. 20, 2009; Accepted Sept. 2, 2009.

Acknowledgments: The authors thank the Atomic Energy Council of Taiwan (92-Nu-7-006-004) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC-92-2314-B-006-042, NSC-95-2314-B-006-115-MY2, NSC-97-2314-B-006-006-MY3) for financial support. The authors thank Ms. Ching Lin Chu, Ms. Tsai-Hua Chang, Ms. Yun-Hsuan Chang and Ms. Chien Ting Lin for administrative support.

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: Drs. Hsieh and Yang designed the study. Drs. Yeh, Lee, Huang, Chiu, Lu and Liao acquired the data, which Dr. Chen analyzed. Dr. Hsieh wrote the article; all other authors reviewed it. All authors provided final approval for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/jpn.090007

Correspondence to: Dr. Y.K. Yang, Department of Psychiatry, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, 138 Sheng Li Rd., Tainan 70428, Taiwan; fax 886-6-2084767; ykyang@mail.ncku.edu.tw