Background: Genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia (SZ) has been suggested to influence the cortical systems supporting working memory (WM) and face processing. Genetic imaging studies link the SZ risk variant rs1344706 on the ZNF804A gene to psychosis via alterations in functional brain connectivity during WM, but no work has looked at the effects of ZNF804A on WM with face-processing components. Methods: We therefore investigated healthy controls that were genotyped for rs1344706 with a face WM task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. We suggested that variation at the rs1344706 locus would be associated with similar alterations as patients previously tested using the same WM task for faces. Results: The rs1344706 risk allele was indeed associated with altered activation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal (rDLPFC) cortex. We established that the rDLPFC was activated in a task-dependent manner, suggesting that the differences in activation between rs1344706 genotype groups reflected alterations in task processing. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the rDLPFC region showed significant volumetric overlap with the rDLPFC which had previously been reported to be altered during task processing for patients with SZ. Conclusions: The findings support an association between rs1344706 and alterations in DLPFC activity during WM for faces. We further suggest that WM for faces may be a useful intermediate phenotype in the investigation of genetic susceptibility to psychosis.
- dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
- genetic imaging
- working memory