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Front Behav Neurosci. 2013 Jul 29;7:95. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00095. eCollection 2013.

Dopaminergic and clinical correlates of pathological gambling in Parkinson's disease: a case report.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine and PET-Centre, Aarhus University Hospital , Aarhus , Denmark ; Centre of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University , Aarhus , Denmark.


Dopaminergic medication for motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD) recently has been linked with impulse control disorders, including pathological gambling (PG), which affects up to 8% of patients. PG often is considered a behavioral addiction associated with disinhibition, risky decision-making, and altered striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission. Using [(11)C]raclopride with positron emission tomography, we assessed dopaminergic neurotransmission during Iowa Gambling Task performance. Here we present data from a single patient with PD and concomitant PG. We noted a marked decrease in [(11)C]raclopride binding in the left ventral striatum upon gambling, indicating a gambling-induced dopamine release. The results imply that PG in PD is associated with a high dose of dopaminergic medication, pronounced motor symptomatology, young age at disease onset, high propensity for sensation seeking, and risky decision-making. Overall, the findings are consistent with the hypothesis of medication-related PG in PD and underscore the importance of taking clinical variables, such as age and personality, into account when patients with PD are medicated, to reduce the risk of PG.


Parkinson’s disease; decision-making; dopamine; impulse control disorders; pathological gambling

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