Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT)

Dopaminedegrading enzyme with fast and normal alleles. The fast variant degrades dopamine quicker than the normal allele. Rapid dopamine degradation interferes with prefrontal cortex tasks such as number memory, card sorting and color matching. Typically, schizophrenics are impaired with respect to such tasks, exhibit increased prefrontal cortex activity during such tasks (owing to dopamine degradation), and are members of schizophrenia-prone families that are more likely to have the fast COMT allele segregating in those pedigrees.