CHRM2 Genotype Affects Inhibitory Control Mechanisms During Cognitive Flexibility

  • Nicolas Zink
  • Wiebke Bensmann
  • Larissa Arning
  • Ann-Kathrin Stock
  • Christian BesteEmail author


The cholinergic system is one of the most important neurotransmitter systems, but knowledge about the relevance of the cholinergic muscarinergic receptor system for cognitive functions is still scarce. Evidence suggests that the cholinergic muscarinic 2 receptor (CHRM2) plays an important role in the processing of cueing/prior information that help to increase the efficacy of lower-level attentional processes. In the current study, we investigated whether this is also the case for higher-level cognitive flexibility mechanisms. To this end, we tested N = 210 healthy adults with a backward inhibition task, in which prior information needs to be used to guide cognitive flexibility mechanisms. Testing different polymorphisms of the CHRM2 gene, we found that variation in this gene play a role in cognitive flexibility. It could be demonstrated that rs8191992 TT genotype carriers are better able to suppress no longer relevant information and to use prior information for cognitive flexibility, compared to A allele carriers. We further found that rs2350780 GG genotype carriers performed worse than A allele carriers. The results broaden the relevance of the CHRM2 system for cognitive functions beyond attentional selection processes. Corroborating recent theories on the relevance of the cholinergic system for cognitive processes, these results suggest that CHRM2 is important to process of “prior information” needed to inform subsequent cognitive operations. Considering the importance of prior information for adaptive behavioral control, it is possible that CHRM2 also modulates other instances of higher-level cognitive processes as long as these require the processing of “prior information.”


CHRM2 Cognitive flexibility Inhibition Genotype Choline Muscarinergic 



This work was supported by a Grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) SFB 940 project B8.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study was approved by the local ethics committee of the TU Dresden, Germany.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive Neurophysiology, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine of the TU DresdenDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Human GeneticsRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany

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