Background. Previous data suggest that (i) dopamine modulates the ability to implement nonroutine schemata and update operations (flexibility processes) and that (ii) dopamine-related improvement may be related to baseline dopamine levels in target pathways (inverted U-shaped hypothesis). Objective. To investigate above hypotheses in individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD). Methods. Twenty PD patients were administered tasks varying as to flexibility load in two treatment conditions: (i) "off" condition, about 18 hours after dopamine dose and (ii) "on" condition, after dopamine administration. PD patients were separated into two groups: low performers (i.e., performance on Digit Span Backward below the sample mean) and high performers (i.e., performance above the mean). Twenty healthy individuals performed the tasks in two sessions without taking drugs. Results. Passing from the "off" to the "on" state, only low performer PD patients significantly improved their performance on high-flexibility measures (interference condition of the Stroop test; <0.05); no significant effect was found on low-flexibility tasks. Conclusions. These findings document that high-flexibility processes are sensitive to dopamine neuromodulation in the early phases of PD.This is in line with the hypothesis that striatal dopamine pathways, affected early by PD, are precociously implicated in the expression of cognitive disorders in these individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Clinical Neurology