Journal Article

Enhanced frontal function in Parkinson’s disease

R. Cools, A. Miyakawa, M. Sheridan and M. D’Esposito

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 133, issue 1, pages 225-233
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI:
Enhanced frontal function in Parkinson’s disease

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We investigated the role of dopamine in working memory by examining effects of withdrawing dopaminergic medication in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Resistance to distraction during a delayed response task was abnormally enhanced in Parkinson’s disease patients OFF medication relative to controls. Conversely, performance on a backward digit span test was impaired in these same Parkinson’s disease patients OFF medication. Dopaminergic medication reinstated susceptibility to distraction and backward digit span performance, so that performance of Parkinson’s disease patients ON medication did not differ from that of controls. We hypothesize that the enhanced distractor resistance and impaired backward digit span in Parkinson’s disease reflects low dopamine levels in the striatum, and perhaps upregulated frontal dopamine levels. Dopaminergic medication may reinstate distractibility by normalizing the balance between striatal and prefrontal dopamine transmission.

Keywords: working memory; cognitive deficits; dopamine; Parkinson’s disease; basal ganglia

Journal Article.  6629 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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