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Neurology. 2011 Aug 30;77(9):858-65. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31822c6224. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Network correlates of the cognitive response to levodopa in Parkinson disease.

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Center for Neurosciences, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.



Cognitive dysfunction is common in Parkinson disease (PD), even early in its clinical course. This disease manifestation has been associated with impaired verbal learning performance as well as abnormal expression of a specific PD-related cognitive spatial covariance pattern (PDCP). It is not known, however, how this metabolic network relates to the cognitive response to dopaminergic therapy on the individual patient level.


We assessed treatment-mediated changes in verbal learning and PDCP expression in 17 patients with PD without dementia who underwent cognitive testing and metabolic imaging in the unmedicated and levodopa-treated conditions. We also determined whether analogous changes were present in 12 other patients with PD without dementia who were evaluated before and during the treatment of cognitive symptoms with placebo.


Levodopa-mediated changes in verbal learning correlated with concurrent changes in PDCP expression (r = -0.60, p < 0.01). The subset of patients with meaningful cognitive improvement on levodopa (n = 8) exhibited concurrent reductions in PDCP expression (p < 0.01) with treatment; network modulation was not evident in the remaining subjects. Notably, the levodopa cognitive response correlated with baseline PDCP levels (r = 0.70, p = 0.002). By contrast, placebo did not affect PDCP expression, even in the subjects (n = 7) with improved verbal learning during treatment.


These findings suggest that cognitive dysfunction in PD may respond to treatment depending upon the degree of baseline PDCP expression. Quantification of treatment-mediated network changes can provide objective information concerning the efficacy of new agents directed at the cognitive manifestations of this disease.

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