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J Psychopharmacol. 2014 Dec;28(12):1149-54. doi: 10.1177/0269881114548437. Epub 2014 Sep 18.

Perceptual decision-making in patients with Parkinson's disease.

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Reta Lila Weston Institute of Neurological Studies, University of London, London, UK Department of Neurology, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
Department of Neurology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.
Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology, London, UK.
Reta Lila Weston Institute of Neurological Studies, University of London, London, UK.
Laboratory of Neuropsychology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Impulsive choice and poor information sampling have been found to be key behavioural mechanisms linked to impulse control disorders (ICDs) in Parkinson's disease (PD). Perceptual decision-making is intimately related to information sampling. Therefore, we wanted to determine whether dopaminergic medication or ICDs influence perceptual decision-making in PD. All participants performed two tasks. One was a simple reaction time task, where subjects needed to respond as quickly as possible. The second was a perceptual decision-making task, in which participants had to estimate whether a stimulus contained either more red or more blue pixels. We tested three groups of patients, one treated with levodopa monotherapy, one additionally treated with dopamine agonists, and a third group had ICDs. Results were compared to healthy controls. We found that all patients made more errors than controls. Further, patients with ICDs responded fastest on the reaction time task and also in incorrect trials on the perceptual decision-making task. Similarly, patients with dopamine agonists responded faster than those on levodopa monotherapy and controls. Our results demonstrate that all patients have deficits in perceptual decision-making. However, patients treated with dopamine agonists closely resembled patients with ICDs.


Compulsivity; Parkinson’s disease; decision-making; dopamine; impulse control disorders; impulsivity; reaction time

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