Dopaminergic modulation of visual-spatial working memory in Parkinson's disease

Alberto Costa, Antonella Peppe, Grazia Dell'Agnello, Giovanni Augusto Carlesimo, Luigi Murri, Ubaldo Bonuccelli, Carlo Caltagirone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Visual-spatial working memory (WM) impairment is frequently associated with the early stage of Parkinson's disease (PD). The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance of a group of PD patients in visual-spatial and visual-object WM tasks and to investigate the effect of administering the dopaminergic agonist apomorphine (experiment 1) or the dopamine precursor L-dopa (experiment 2) on the performance of tests assessing these functions. To study WM processes, the PD patients and age-matched normal controls were given an n-back task paradigm. In both experiments, the PD patients were submitted to two evaluations: one after a 12-hour therapy washout and the other 15 min after a subcutaneous infusion of apomorphine (average 0.04 mg/kg) or 20/30 min after L-dopa intake (200 mg p.o.). The apomorphine infusion had a worsening effect on reaction times in both visual-spatial and visual-object WM tasks, but it did not influence performance accuracy. Instead, L-dopa administration had a ameliorative effect on accuracy and reaction times in both visual-spatial and visual-object tasks. These results highlight the role of dopamine in the modulation of the WM function in PD patients. Copyright

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalDementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Apomorphine
  • Dopamine
  • Levodopa
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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