The Idea Is Good, but : Failure to Replicate Associations of Oxytocinergic Polymorphisms with Face-Inversion in the N170
Background: In event-related potentials, the N170 manifests itself especially in reaction to faces. In the healthy population, face-inversion leads to stronger negative amplitudes and prolonged latencies of the N170, effects not being present in patients with autism-spectrum-disorder (ASD). ASD has frequently been associated with differences in ... oxytocinergic neurotransmission. This ERP-study aimed to investigate the face-inversion effect in association with oxytocinergic candidate genes. It was expected that risk-allele-carriers of the oxytocin-receptor-gene-polymorphism (rs53576) and of CD38 (rs379863) responded similar to upright and inverted faces as persons with ASD. Additionally, reactions to different facial emotional expressions were studied. As there have been difficulties with replications of those molecular genetic association studies, we aimed to replicate our findings in a second study. Method: Seventy-two male subjects in the first-, and seventy-eight young male subjects in the replication-study conducted a face-inversion-paradigm, while recording EEG. DNA was extracted from buccal cells. Results: Results revealed stronger N170-amplitudes and longer latencies in reaction to inverted faces in comparison to upright ones. Furthermore, effects of emotion on N170 were evident. Those effects were present in the first and in the second study. Whereas we found molecular-genetic associations of oxytocinergic polymorphisms with the N170 in the first study, we failed to do so in the replication sample. Conclusion: Results indicate that a deeper theoretical understanding of this research-field is needed, in order to generate possible explanations for these findings. Results, furthermore, support the hypotheses that success of reproducibility is correlated with strength of lower original p-values and larger effect sizes in the original study.