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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(1):1-23. Epub 2005 Jun 1.

Dopaminergic modulation of cognitive function-implications for L-DOPA treatment in Parkinson's disease.

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  • 1Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, 132 Barker Hall, Berkeley, USA.


It is well recognised that patients with Parkinson's disease exhibit cognitive deficits, even in the earliest disease stages. Whereas, L-DOPA therapy in early Parkinson's disease is accepted to improve the motor symptoms, the effects on cognitive performance are more complex: both positive and negative effects have been observed. The purpose of the present article is to review the effects of L-DOPA medication in Parkinson's disease on cognitive functions in the broad domains of cognitive flexibility and working memory. The review places the effects in Parkinson's disease within a framework of evidence from studies with healthy human volunteers, rodents and non-human primates as well as computational modeling work. It is suggested that beneficial or detrimental effects of L-DOPA are observed depending on task demands and basal dopamine levels in distinct parts of the striatum. The study of the beneficial and detrimental cognitive effects of L-DOPA in Parkinson's disease has substantial implications for the understanding and treatment development of cognitive abnormalities in Parkinson's disease as well as normal health.

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