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J Parkinsons Dis. 2016;6(1):67-75. doi: 10.3233/JPD-150770.

Impulse Control Disorders - The Continuum Hypothesis.

Abstract

The group Parkinson Inside Out is composed of health professionals and academic researchers who have been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. In our discussions we try to make use of both our inside perspective as patients, and our outside perspective as professionals. In this paper, we apply the two perspectives to the Impulse Control Disorders. These impulsive behaviour patterns are thought to be relatively uncommon side effects of some of the medication used in dopamine replacement therapy. The phenomenon is usually described as relatively rare (<15%), and mainly confined to patients with special vulnerabilities. In contrast, we propose that having some problems with controlling impulses is a very common experience for patients undergoing dopamine replacement therapy. They result from difficulties in decision making engendered by variations in dopamine accessibility in the reward centre of the brain. Only in a minority do the consequences grow to the damaging proportions of a disorder, but most patients are probably affected to some degree. Seeing, and measuring, decision difficulties as a continuous dimension, rather than as a discrete category, brings increased possibilities for early detection and continuous monitoring. With reliable measures of the propensity for impulsive decision making, it may become possible to both reap the benefits and avoid the dangers of the dopamine agonists. We point to ways of empirically testing our continuity hypothesis.

KEYWORDS:

Parkinson’s disease; dopamine agonists; impulse control disorders; impulsivity

PMID:
27031861
DOI:
10.3233/JPD-150770
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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