Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the nerve-growth-factor family, plays an important role in neuronal survival and development, and it can modulate serotonergic activity. Further, BDNF has been implicated in the expression of personality traits and in cognitive function. We tested the associations between functional BDNF Val66Met genetic variants, and personality trait and intelligence in a cohort of 114 healthy young Chinese females. Subjects with the Val/Val genotype had a significantly higher mean performance IQ than Val/Met carriers, especially for the Object Assembly subtest. No significant association was demonstrated for the BDNF polymorphism and any of the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire personality-factor scores, including harm avoidance. These results suggest that genetic variants of the BDNF gene may play a role in specific cognitive functions, but not in overall intelligence. In contrast to a recent report, however, this polymorphism does not appear to be associated with the neuroticism-related personality trait.
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