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Is dopamine D1 receptor availability related to social behavior? A positron emission tomography replication study

By Pontus Plavén-Sigray, Granville J. Matheson, Petter Gustavsson, Per Stenkrona, Christer Halldin, Lars Farde, Simon Cervenka

Posted 13 Nov 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/218420 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193770)

Background: Associations between dopamine receptor levels and pro- and antisocial behavior have previously been demonstrated in human subjects using positron emission tomography (PET) and self-rated measures of personality traits. So far, only one study has focused on the D1-dopamine receptor (D1-R), finding a positive correlation with the trait social desirability, which is characterized by low dominant and high affiliative behavior, while physical aggression showed a negative correlation. The aim of the present study was to replicate these previous findings using a new independent sample of subjects. Methods: Twenty-six healthy males were examined with the radioligand [11]SCH-23390, and completed the Swedish universities Scales of Personality (SSP) which includes measures of social desirability and physical trait aggression. The simplified reference tissue model with cerebellum as reference region was used to calculate BPND values in the whole striatum and limbic striatum. The two regions were selected since they showed strong association between D1-R availability and personality scores in the previous study. Pearson's correlation coefficients and replication Bayes factors were then employed to assess the replicability and robustness of previous results. Results: There were no significant correlations (all p values > 0.3) between regional BPND values and personality scale scores. Replication Bayes factors showed strong to moderate evidence in favor no relationship between D1-receptor availability and social desirability (striatum BF01 = 12.4; limbic striatum BF01 = 7.2) or physical aggression scale scores (limbic striatum BF01 = 3.3), compared to the original correlations. Discussion: We could not replicate the previous findings of associations between D1-R availability and either pro- or antisocial behavior as measured using the SSP. Rather, there was evidence in favor of failed replications of associations between BPND and scale scores. Potential reasons for these results are restrictive variance in both PET and personality outcomes due to high sample homogeneity, or that the previous findings were false positives.

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