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1.  The role of dopamine in risk taking: a specific look at Parkinson’s disease and gambling 
An influential model suggests that dopamine signals the difference between predicted and experienced reward. In this way, dopamine can act as a learning signal that can shape behaviors to maximize rewards and avoid punishments. Dopamine is also thought to invigorate reward seeking behavior. Loss of dopamine signaling is the major abnormality in Parkinson’s disease. Dopamine agonists have been implicated in the occurrence of impulse control disorders in Parkinson’s disease patients, the most common being pathological gambling, compulsive sexual behavior, and compulsive buying. Recently, a number of functional imaging studies investigating impulse control disorders in Parkinson’s disease have been published. Here we review this literature, and attempt to place it within a decision-making framework in which potential gains and losses are evaluated to arrive at optimum choices. We also provide a hypothetical but still incomplete model on the effect of dopamine agonist treatment on these value and risk assessments. Two of the main brain structures thought to be involved in computing aspects of reward and loss are the ventral striatum (VStr) and the insula, both dopamine projection sites. Both structures are consistently implicated in functional brain imaging studies of pathological gambling in Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC4038955  PMID: 24910600
impulse control disorders; impulsivity; reward; loss aversion; insula; ventral striatum
2.  Diagnosis and treatment of impulse control disorders in patients with movement disorders 
Impulse control disorders are a psychiatric condition characterized by the failure to resist an impulsive act or behavior that may be harmful to self or others. In movement disorders, impulse control disorders are associated with dopaminergic treatment, notably dopamine agonists (DAs). Impulse control disorders have been studied extensively in Parkinson’s disease, but are also recognized in restless leg syndrome and atypical Parkinsonian syndromes. Epidemiological studies suggest younger age, male sex, greater novelty seeking, impulsivity, depression and premorbid impulse control disorders as the most consistent risk factors. Such patients may warrant special monitoring after starting treatment with a DA. Various individual screening tools are available for people without Parkinson’s disease. The Questionnaire for Impulsive-Compulsive Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease has been developed specifically for Parkinson’s disease. The best treatment for impulse control disorders is prevention. However, after the development of impulse control disorders, the mainstay intervention is to reduce or discontinue the offending anti-Parkinsonian medication. In refractory cases, other pharmacological interventions are available, including neuroleptics, antiepileptics, amantadine, antiandrogens, lithium and opioid antagonists. Unfortunately, their use is only supported by case reports, small case series or open-label clinical studies. Prospective, controlled studies are warranted. Ongoing investigations include naltrexone and nicotine.
PMCID: PMC3625015  PMID: 23634190
Impulse control disorders; Parkinson’s disease; restless leg syndrome; parkinsonism; dopamine agonist; non-motor complication; neurobehavioural
3.  Amantadine and cognitive flexibility: decision making in Parkinson’s patients with severe pathological gambling and other impulse control disorders 
Dopamine replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD) was recently linked to the development of impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling (PG), hypersexuality, compulsive shopping, and binge or compulsive eating. Antiglutamatergic agents including amantadine (Ama) reduce these behaviors in PD and non-PD patients. The aim of our study is to evaluate the changes in executive functions, emotions, and reward/loss processing during Ama treatment in PD patients.
Thirty-three patients affected by idiopathic PD were selected from a cohort of 1,096 PD patients and categorized in three different groups: ten affected by PG (PD-PG); nine PD patients with other impulse control disorder (PD-ICD); and 14 PD patient without any psychiatric disorder (PD-CTR-controls). For the neuropsychological evaluation, the following behavioral tasks where administered: the Stroop, the emotional Stroop, and the monetary reward/loss risk-taking tasks.
During Ama treatment, PD-PGs showed a decrease in risky choices and an increase in non-risky choices (t(9)=−2.40, P<0.05 and t(9)=2,67, P<0.05 uncorrected, respectively). Between-group comparison showed a significant decrease in risky choices for PD-PG with respect to PD-CTR (t(22)=−4.16, P<0.01), and a decreased accuracy for positive words in comparison between PD-PG and PD-ICD (t(17)=−7,49, P<0.01) and PD-PG and PD-CTR (t(22)=−4.29, P<0.01). No within- and between-group differences were observed for Stroop task.
Our data showed that Ama add-on therapy reduces hypersensitivity to reward and sustains activation toward uncertainty in PD-PG patients. These finding might explain the behavioral mechanism underlying the effect of antiglutamatergic drugs.
PMCID: PMC4069151  PMID: 24971012
Parkinson’s disease; executive functions; emotion
4.  Increased striatal dopamine release in Parkinsonian patients with pathological gambling: a [11C] raclopride PET study 
Brain : a journal of neurology  2009;132(Pt 5):1376-1385.
Pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder reported in association with dopamine agonists used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Although impulse control disorders are conceptualized as lying within the spectrum of addictions, little neurobiological evidence exists to support this belief. Functional imaging studies have consistently demonstrated abnormalities of dopaminergic function in patients with drug addictions, but to date no study has specifically evaluated dopaminergic function in Parkinson’s disease patients with impulse control disorders. We describe results of a [11C] raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) study comparing dopaminergic function during gambling in Parkinson’s disease patients, with and without pathological gambling, following dopamine agonists. Patients with pathological gambling demonstrated greater decreases in binding potential in the ventral striatum during gambling (13.9%) than control patients (8.1%), likely reflecting greater dopaminergic release. Ventral striatal bindings at baseline during control task were also lower in patients with pathological gambling. Although prior imaging studies suggest that abnormality in dopaminergic binding and dopamine release may be markers of vulnerability to addiction, this study presents the first evidence of these phenomena in pathological gambling. The emergence of pathological gambling in a number of Parkinson’s disease patients may provide a model into the pathophysiology of this disorder.
PMCID: PMC3479148  PMID: 19346328 CAMSID: cams2369
Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; impulse control disorders; pathological gambling; PET; functional imaging
5.  Dopamine Agonist Use is Associated with Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease 
Archives of neurology  2006;63(7):969-973.
To determine the frequency and correlates of impulse control disorders (ICDs) in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
An unstructured screening interview for ICDs (compulsive gambling, buying, and sexual behavior) followed by a telephone-administered structured interview for screen-positive patients.
Two university-affiliated movement disorders centers.
A convenience sample of 272 patients with idiopathic PD who were screened for psychiatric complications.
Main Outcome Measures
Presence of compulsive gambling, buying, or sexual behavior as assessed by the Minnesota Impulsive Disorders Interview.
Eighteen (6.6%) PD patients met criteria for an ICD at some point during the course of PD, including 11 (4.0%) with an active ICD. Compulsive gambling and compulsive sexual behavior were equally common. In a multivariate model, treatment with a dopamine agonist (P = .01) and a history of ICD symptomatology prior to PD onset (P = .02) predicted current ICD. There were no differences between the dopamine agonists in their association with ICDs (P = .21), and daily doses of dopamine agonists were higher in patients with an ICD than in dopamine agonist-treated patients without an ICD (P < .001).
PD patients treated with a dopamine agonist should be made aware of the risk of developing an ICD and monitored clinically. As dopamine agonists are increasing being used for other indications, future research should assess the dopamine agonist-associated risk for ICDs in other populations.
PMCID: PMC1761054  PMID: 16831966
6.  Impulse control disorders in Parkinson’s disease: recent advances 
Current opinion in neurology  2011;24(4):324-330.
Purpose of review
To review the recent advances in the epidemiology and pathophysiology of impulse control disorders (ICD) in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Recent findings
Large cross-sectional and case-control multicentre studies show that ICDs in PD are common with a frequency of 13.6%. These behaviours are associated with impaired functioning and with depressive, anxiety and obsessive symptoms, novelty seeking and impulsivity. Behavioural subtypes demonstrate differences in novelty seeking and impulsivity suggesting pathophysiological differences. Observational and neurophysiological studies point towards a potential mechanistic overlap between the behavioural (ICDs) and motor (dyskinesias) dopaminergic sequelae. Converging data suggest dopamine agonists in ICDs appear to enhance learning from rewarding outcomes and impulsive choice. ICD patients also have enhanced risk preference and impaired working memory. Neuroimaging data points towards enhanced bottom-up ventral striatal dopamine release to incentive cues, gambling tasks and reward prediction, and possibly inhibition of top-down orbitofrontal influences. Dopamine agonist-related ventral striatal hypoactivity to risk is consistent with impaired risk evaluation.
Recent large scale studies and converging findings are beginning to provide an understanding of mechanisms underlying ICDs in PD which can guide prevention of these behaviours and optimize therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3154756  PMID: 21725242
Impulse control disorders; Parkinson’s disease; dopamine agonists; pathological gambling; impulsivity
7.  Effects of Pramipexole on Impulsive Choice in Male Wistar Rats 
Clinical reports, primarily with Parkinson’s patients, note an association between the prescribed use of pramipexole (and other direct-acting dopamine agonist medications) and impulse control disorders, particularly pathological gambling. Two experiments examined the effects of acute pramipexole on rats’ impulsive choices where impulsivity was defined as selecting a smaller-sooner over a larger-later food reward. In Experiment 1, pramipexole (0.1 to 0.3 mg/kg) significantly increased impulsive choices in a condition in which few impulsive choices were made during a stable baseline. In a control condition, in which impulsive choices predominated during baseline, pramipexole did not significantly change the same rats’ choices. Experiment 2 explored a wider range of doses (0.01 to 0.3 mg/kg) using a choice procedure in which delays to the larger-later reinforcer delivery increased across trial blocks within each session. At the doses used in Experiment 1, pramipexole shifted choice toward indifference regardless of the operative delay. At lower doses of pramipexole (0.01 & 0.03 mg/kg), a trend toward more impulsive choice was observed at the 0.03 mg/kg dose. The difference in outcomes across experiments may be due to the more complex discriminations required in Experiment 2; i.e., multiple discriminations between changing delays within each session.
PMCID: PMC3021944  PMID: 20545391
Pramipexole; D2/D3 agonist; Impulsivity; Choice; Gambling
8.  Betting on DBS: Effects of Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation on Risk-Taking and Decision-Making in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease 
Neuropsychology  2014;29(4):622-631.
Concerns persist that deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease (PD) increases impulsivity and/or induces excessive reward-seeking. We report here the performance of PD patients with implanted subthalamic nucleus electrodes, with stimulation on and off, on three laboratory tasks of risk-taking and decision-making. They are compared to PD patients maintained on medication and normal control subjects.
Methods and Results
In the Game of Dice Task, a test of “risky” decision-making, PD patients with or without DBS made highest-risk bets more often, and ended up with less money, than normal controls. There was a trend for DBS stimulation to ameliorate this effect.
Deal or No-Deal is an “ambiguous” decision-making task that assessed preference for risk (holding on to one’s briefcase) over a “sure thing” (accepting the banker’s offer). Here, DBS patients were more conservative with stimulation on than off. They accepted smaller offers from the banker and won less money in the DBS-on condition. Overall, the two PD groups won less money than healthy participants.
The Framing Paradigm assessed willingness to gamble on a fixed (unambiguous) prize depending on whether the reward was “framed” as a loss or a gain. Nonsurgical PD patients tended to be more risk-averse than normal subjects, whereas DBS patients were more willing to gamble for gains as well as losses both on and off stimulation.
On “risky” decision-making tasks, DBS patients were more risk-taking than normal, but stimulation may temper this tendency. In contrast, in an “ambiguous risk” situation, DBS patients were more risk-averse (conservative) than normal, and this tendency was greatest with stimulation.
PMCID: PMC4459935  PMID: 25486385
decision-making; risk-taking; deep brain stimulation; Parkinson’s disease
9.  The Risky Business of Dopamine Agonists in Parkinson Disease and Impulse Control Disorders 
Behavioral neuroscience  2011;125(4):492-500.
Risk-taking behavior is characterized by pursuit of reward in spite of potential negative consequences. Dopamine neurotransmission along the mesocorticolimbic pathway is a potential modulator of risk behavior. In patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD), impulse control disorder (ICD) can result from dopaminergic medication use, particularly Dopamine Agonists (DAA). Behaviors associated with ICD include hypersexuality as well as compulsive gambling, shopping, and eating, and are potentially linked to alterations to risk processing. Using the Balloon Analogue Risk task, we assessed the role of agonist therapy on risk-taking behavior in PD patients with (n=22) and without (n=19) active ICD symptoms. Patients performed the task both ‘on’ and ‘off’ DAA. DAA increased risk-taking in PD patients with active ICD symptoms, but did not affect risk behavior of PD controls. DAA dose was also important in explaining risk behavior. Both groups similarly reduced their risk-taking in high compared to low risk conditions and following the occurrence of a negative consequence, suggesting that ICD patients do not necessarily differ in their ability to process and adjust to some aspects of negative consequences. Our findings suggest dopaminergic augmentation of risk-taking behavior as a potential contributing mechanism for the emergence of ICD in PD patients.
PMCID: PMC3144294  PMID: 21604834
Impulse Control Disorders; Dopamine Agonists; Parkinson Disease; Risk behavior
10.  Glitazone Treatment and Incidence of Parkinson’s Disease among People with Diabetes: A Retrospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(7):e1001854.
Recent in vitro and animal experiments suggest that peroxisome proliferation-activated receptor gamma (PPARɣ) agonist medications, such as antidiabetic glitazone (GTZ) drugs, are neuroprotective in models of Parkinson’s disease (PD). These findings have not been tested in humans. We hypothesized that individuals prescribed GTZ drugs would have a lower incidence of PD compared to individuals prescribed other treatments for diabetes.
Methods and Findings
Using primary care data from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), we conducted a retrospective cohort study in which individuals with diabetes who were newly prescribed GTZ (GTZ-exposed group) were matched by age, sex, practice, and diabetes treatment stage with up to five individuals prescribed other diabetes treatments (other antidiabetic drug-exposed group). Patients were followed up from 1999 until the first recording of a PD diagnosis, end of observation in the database, or end of the study (1 August 2013). An incidence rate ratio (IRR) was calculated using conditional Poisson regression, adjusted for possible confounders. 44,597 GTZ exposed individuals were matched to 120,373 other antidiabetic users. 175 GTZ-exposed individuals were diagnosed with PD compared to 517 individuals in the other antidiabetic drug-exposed group. The incidence rate (IR) of PD in the GTZ-exposed group was 6.4 per 10,000 patient years compared with 8.8 per 10,000 patient years in those prescribed other antidiabetic treatments (IRR 0.72, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60–0.87). Adjustments for potential confounding variables, including smoking, other medications, head injury, and disease severity, had no material impact (fully adjusted IRR 0.75, 0.59–0.94). The risk was reduced in those with current GTZ prescriptions (current GTZ-exposed IRR 0.59, 0.46–0.77) but not reduced among those with past prescriptions (past GTZ-exposed IRR 0.85, 0.65–1.10). Our study only included patients with diabetes who did not have a PD diagnosis when they were first prescribed GTZ, and thus, it cannot establish whether GTZ use prevents or slows the progression of PD.
In patients with diabetes, a current prescription for GTZ is associated with a reduction in incidence of PD. This suggests PPAR gamma pathways may be a fruitful drug target in PD.
In a retrospective cohort study, Ruth Brauer and colleagues examine the association between treatment with glitazone and incidence of Parkinson's disease.
Editors' Summary
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common, progressive neurological disease. The condition is caused by the gradual loss of nerve cells that normally produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the body’s movements. PD does not usually begin to develop until people are around 60 years old, although it can sometimes affect younger people. Its symptoms, which develop slowly, include tremor (trembling of the hands, legs, arm, jaw, and face), slow movement, and rigidity (muscle stiffness). As these symptoms worsen, affected individuals may have trouble walking, speaking, swallowing, and sleeping, and they may become depressed. No one has found a way to halt the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells yet, but medications that replace or mimic the lost dopamine can reduce the severity of these symptoms. PD does not directly kill people, but it puts a great strain on the body that can make affected individuals vulnerable to life-threatening infections. Nevertheless, these days, many people with PD have a normal or near-normal life expectancy.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent experiments suggest that drugs that bind to the peroxisome proliferation-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ agonist medications) may be neuroprotective (prevent nerve cell loss) in animal models of PD. PPARγ regulates how the body uses fats and sugars, and PPARγ agonist medications such as rosiglitazone and pioglitazone (glitazone [GTZ] drugs) are used to treat people with diabetes, a condition characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood. It is not known, however, whether GTZ drugs provide protection against PD in people. In this retrospective cohort study, the researchers investigate whether individuals with diabetes exposed to GTZ drugs have a lower incidence of PD than individuals using other antidiabetic drugs. A retrospective cohort study uses data already collected on a group (cohort) of people to look for associations between specific characteristics such as use of a drug and outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 44,597 patients with diabetes who were newly exposed to GTZ drugs in the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a database that contains primary care data on more than 13 million individuals. They matched each patient with up to five users of other antidiabetic drugs (120,373 controls) who were similar in terms of age, sex, attendance at the same primary care practice, and diabetes treatment stage; people with diabetes usually initially take a single drug but often switch to a different drug or to a combination of drugs as their disease progresses. Finally, the researchers followed up the entire cohort from January 1999 (when glitazones were introduced to treat diabetes) until diagnosis of PD, the end of inclusion in the database, or the end of the study (August 2013). During follow up, 175 glitazone users and 517 non-glitazone users were diagnosed with PD. The incidence rates of PD among glitazone-using individuals and among users of other antidiabetic treatments were 6.4 per 10,000 patient years and 8.8 per 10,000 patient years, respectively (an incidence rate ratio [IRR] of 0.72; an IRR compares the rate of occurrence of new cases of a disease in two groups of people). Adjustment for potential confounding variables (characteristics that might affect an individual’s likelihood of developing PD) such as smoking and head injury did not alter the IRR. Notably, the risk of PD was reduced among current users of GTZ drugs but not among past users.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among people with diabetes, current (but not past) GTZ use is associated with a 28% lower rate of clinical presentation of PD compared to the use of other antidiabetic drugs. Because the study only included patients with diabetes who did not have a PD diagnosis when they started GTZ treatment, these findings cannot establish whether GTZ use is associated with prevention of PD or with slower progression of the disease. Moreover, the accuracy of these findings may be affected by misdiagnosis of PD and misclassification of exposure periods to various antidiabetic drugs in the database and by residual confounding. Finally, these findings may not be applicable to people without diabetes. Importantly, the researchers do not recommend that GTZ drugs (which have been associated with some serious side effects) be used as a treatment for PD. Rather, they suggest that the pathways in which PPARγ is involved might contain potential drug targets for PD and should be investigated in future research.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at
The United States National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides detailed information about PD (in English and Spanish), including links to US organizations that help people with PD
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information on all aspects of PD (including personal stories)
The UK not-for-profit organization Parkinson'sUK and the US not-for-profit organization National Parkinson Foundation also provide detailed information about PD and personal stories
The UK not-for-profit organization Healthtalk.Org provides stories about all aspects of living with PD
MedlinePlus has links to further resources about PD and information about rosiglitazone and pioglitazone (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4511413  PMID: 26196151
11.  Dopaminergic Influences on Emotional Decision Making in Euthymic Bipolar Patients 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2013;39(2):274-282.
We recently reported that the D2/D3 agonist pramipexole may have pro-cognitive effects in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder (BPD); however, the emergence of impulse-control disorders has been documented in Parkinson's disease (PD) after pramipexole treatment. Performance on reward-based tasks is altered in healthy subjects after a single dose of pramipexole, but its potential to induce abnormalities in BPD patients is unknown. We assessed reward-dependent decision making in euthymic BPD patients pre- and post 8 weeks of treatment with pramipexole or placebo by using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). The IGT requires subjects to choose among four card decks (two risky and two conservative) and is designed to promote learning to make advantageous (conservative) choices over time. Thirty-four BPD patients completed both assessments (18 placebo and 16 pramipexole). Baseline performance did not differ by treatment group (F=0.63; p=0.64); however, at week 8, BPD patients on pramipexole demonstrated a significantly greater tendency to make increasingly high-risk, high-reward choices across the five blocks, whereas the placebo group's pattern was similar to that reported in healthy individuals (treatment × time × block interaction, p<0.05). Analyses of choice strategy using the expectancy valence model revealed that after 8 weeks on pramipexole, BPD patients attended more readily to feedback related to gains than to losses, which could explain the impaired learning. There were no significant changes in mood symptoms over the 8 weeks, and no increased propensity toward manic-like behaviors were reported. Our results suggest that the enhancement of dopaminergic activity influences risk-associated decision-making performance in euthymic BPD. The clinical implications remain unknown.
PMCID: PMC3870768  PMID: 23884342
Behavioral Science; bipolar disorder; decision-making; Dopamine; gambling; Mood/Anxiety/Stress Disorders; Neuropharmacology; pramipexole; bipolar disorder; dopamine; pramipexole; decision-making
12.  Basal ganglia dysfunction in idiopathic REM sleep behaviour disorder parallels that in early Parkinson’s disease 
Brain  2016;139(8):2224-2234.
See Postuma (doi:10.1093/aww131) for a scientific commentary on this article.
Idiopathic REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) is associated with frequent conversion to Parkinson’s disease. Rolinski et al. show that resting-state fMRI differentiates cases of RBD and Parkinson’s disease from controls with high sensitivity (96%) and specificity (74–78%). Basal ganglia network connectivity may reveal future Parkinson’s disease before motor symptom onset.
See Postuma (doi:10.1093/aww131) for a scientific commentary on this article.Idiopathic REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) is associated with frequent conversion to Parkinson’s disease. Rolinski et al. show that resting-state fMRI differentiates cases of RBD and Parkinson’s disease from controls with high sensitivity (96%) and specificity (74–78%). Basal ganglia network connectivity may reveal future Parkinson’s disease before motor symptom onset.
See Postuma (doi:10.1093/aww131) for a scientific commentary on this article.
Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging dysfunction within the basal ganglia network is a feature of early Parkinson’s disease and may be a diagnostic biomarker of basal ganglia dysfunction. Currently, it is unclear whether these changes are present in so-called idiopathic rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, a condition associated with a high rate of future conversion to Parkinson’s disease. In this study, we explore the utility of resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging to detect basal ganglia network dysfunction in rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder. We compare these data to a set of healthy control subjects, and to a set of patients with established early Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, we explore the relationship between resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging basal ganglia network dysfunction and loss of dopaminergic neurons assessed with dopamine transporter single photon emission computerized tomography, and perform morphometric analyses to assess grey matter loss. Twenty-six patients with polysomnographically-established rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, 48 patients with Parkinson’s disease and 23 healthy control subjects were included in this study. Resting state networks were isolated from task-free functional magnetic resonance imaging data using dual regression with a template derived from a separate cohort of 80 elderly healthy control participants. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging parameter estimates were extracted from the study subjects in the basal ganglia network. In addition, eight patients with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, 10 with Parkinson’s disease and 10 control subjects received 123I-ioflupane single photon emission computerized tomography. We tested for reduction of basal ganglia network connectivity, and for loss of tracer uptake in rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder and Parkinson’s disease relative to each other and to controls. Connectivity measures of basal ganglia network dysfunction differentiated both rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder and Parkinson’s disease from controls with high sensitivity (96%) and specificity (74% for rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, 78% for Parkinson’s disease), indicating its potential as an indicator of early basal ganglia dysfunction. Rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder was indistinguishable from Parkinson’s disease on resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging despite obvious differences on dopamine transported single photon emission computerized tomography. Basal ganglia connectivity is a promising biomarker for the detection of early basal ganglia network dysfunction, and may help to identify patients at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in the future. Future risk stratification using a polymodal approach could combine basal ganglia network connectivity with clinical and other imaging measures, with important implications for future neuroprotective trials in rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder.
PMCID: PMC4958897  PMID: 27297241
Parkinson’s disease; imaging; rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder
13.  Drug-induced deactivation of inhibitory networks predicts pathological gambling in PD (e–Pub ahead of print)  
Neurology  2010;75(19):1711-1716.
Some patients with Parkinson disease (PD) develop pathological gambling when treated with dopamine agonists (DAs). However, little is known about DA-induced changes in neuronal networks that may underpin this drug-induced change in behavior in vulnerable individuals. In this case-control study, we aimed to investigate DA-induced changes in brain activity that may differentiate patients with PD with DA-induced pathological gambling (gamblers) from patients with PD without such a history (controls).
Following overnight withdrawal of antiparkinsonian medication, patients were studied with H2 15O PET before and after administration of DA (3 mg apomorphine) to measure changes in regional cerebral blood flow as an index of regional brain activity during a card selection game with probabilistic feedback.
We observed that the direction of DA-related activity change in brain areas that are implicated in impulse control and response inhibition (lateral orbitofrontal cortex, rostral cingulate zone, amygdala, external pallidum) distinguished gamblers from controls. DA significantly increased activity in these areas in controls, while gamblers showed a significant DA-induced reduction of activity.
We propose that in vulnerable patients with PD, DAs produce an abnormal neuronal pattern that resembles those found in nonparkinsonian pathological gambling and drug addiction. DA-induced disruption of inhibitory key functions—outcome monitoring (rostral cingulate zone), acquisition and retention of negative action-outcome associations (amygdala and lateral orbitofrontal cortex)—together with restricted access of those areas to executive control (external pallidum)—may well explain loss of impulse control and response inhibition in vulnerable patients with PD, thereby fostering the development of pathological gambling.
= analysis of variance;
= dopamine agonist;
= Gambling Symptom Assessment Scale;
= external pallidum;
= Montréal Neurological Institute;
= orbitofrontal cortex;
= Parkinson disease;
= regional cerebral blood flow;
= rostral cingulated zone;
= Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale.
PMCID: PMC3033606  PMID: 20926784
14.  Dopamine and Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease 
Annals of neurology  2008;64(Suppl 2):S93-100.
There is an increasing awareness that impulse control disorders (ICDs), including compulsive gambling, buying, sexual behavior, and eating, can occur as a complication of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In addition, other impulsive or compulsive disorders have been reported to occur, including dopamine dysregulation syndrome (DDS) and punding. Case reporting and prospective studies have reported an association between ICDs and the use of dopamine agonists (DAs), particularly at greater dosages, whereas dopamine dysregulation syndrome has been associated with greater dosages of levodopa or short-acting DAs. Data suggest that risk factors for an ICD may include male sex, younger age or younger age at PD onset, a pre-PD history of ICD symptoms, personal or family history of substance abuse or bipolar disorder, and a personality style characterized by impulsiveness. Although psychiatric medications are used clinically in the treatment of ICDs, there is no empiric evidence supporting their use in PD. Therefore, management for clinically significant ICD symptoms should consist of modifications to dopamine replacement therapy, particularly DAs, and there is emerging evidence that such management is associated with an overall improvement in ICD symptomatology. It is important that PD patients be aware that DA use may lead to the development of an ICD, and that clinicians monitor patients as part of routine clinical care. As empirically validated treatments for ICDs are emerging, it will be important to examine their efficacy and tolerability in individuals with cooccurring PD and ICDs.
PMCID: PMC3530139  PMID: 19127573
15.  Trait Impulsivity and Anhedonia: Two Gateways for the Development of Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease? 
Apathy and impulsivity are two major comorbid syndromes of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that may represent two extremes of a behavioral spectrum modulated by dopamine-dependent processes. PD is characterized by a progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta to which are attributed the cardinal motor symptoms of the disorder. Dopamine replacement therapy (DRT), used widely to treat these motor symptoms, is often associated with deficits in hedonic processing and motivation, including apathy and depression, as well as impulse control disorders (ICDs). ICDs comprise pathological gambling, hypersexuality, compulsive shopping, binge eating, compulsive overuse of dopaminergic medication, and punding. More frequently observed in males with early onset PD, ICDs are associated not only with comorbid affective symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, but also with behavioral traits, such as novelty seeking and impulsivity, as well as with personal or familial history of alcohol use. This constellation of associated risk factors highlights the importance of inter-individual differences in the vulnerability to develop comorbid psychiatric disorders in PD patients. Additionally, withdrawal from DRT in patients with ICDs frequently unmasks a severe apathetic state, suggesting that apathy and ICDs may be caused by overlapping neurobiological mechanisms within the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical networks. We suggest that altered hedonic and impulse control processes represent distinct prodromal substrates for the development of these psychiatric symptoms, the etiopathogenic mechanisms of which remain unknown. Specifically, we argue that deficits in hedonic and motivational states and impulse control are mediated by overlapping, yet dissociable, neural mechanisms that differentially interact with DRT to promote the emergence of ICDs in vulnerable individuals. Thus, we provide a novel heuristic framework for basic and clinical research to better define and treat comorbid ICDs in PD.
PMCID: PMC4884740  PMID: 27303314
Parkinson’s disease; impulse control disorders; impulsivity; apathy; depression; anxiety; dopaminergic nigrostriatal system; D2/3 dopamine receptors
16.  Impulsive choice and response in dopamine agonist-related impulse control behaviors 
Psychopharmacology  2009;207(4):645-659.
Dopaminergic medication-related Impulse Control Disorders (ICDs) such as pathological gambling and compulsive shopping have been reported in Parkinson disease (PD).
We hypothesized that dopamine agonists (DAs) would be associated with greater impulsive choice, or greater discounting of delayed rewards, in PD patients with ICDs (PDI).
Fourteen PDI patients, 14 PD controls without ICDs and 16 medication-free matched normal controls were tested on (i) the Experiential Discounting Task (EDT), a feedback-based intertemporal choice task, (ii) spatial working memory and (iii) attentional set shifting. The EDT was used to assess impulsivity choice (hyperbolic K-value), reaction time (RT) and decision conflict RT (the RT difference between high conflict and low conflict choices). PDI patients and PD controls were tested on and off DA.
On the EDT, there was a group by medication interaction effect [F(1,26)=5.62; p=0.03] with pairwise analyses demonstrating that DA status was associated with increased impulsive choice in PDI patients (p=0.02) but not in PD controls (p=0.37). PDI patients also had faster RT compared to PD controls F(1,26)=7.51 p=0.01]. DA status was associated with shorter RT [F(3,24)=8.39, p=0.001] and decision conflict RT [F(1,26)=6.16, p=0.02] in PDI patients but not in PD controls. There were no correlations between different measures of impulsivity. PDI patients on DA had greater spatial working memory impairments compared to PD controls on DA (t=2.13, df=26, p=0.04).
Greater impulsive choice, faster RT, faster decision conflict RT and executive dysfunction may contribute to ICDs in PD.
PMCID: PMC3676926  PMID: 19838863
dopamine agonist; gambling; impulse control; Parkinson disease; delay discounting
17.  Ventral Striatal Dopamine Synthesis Capacity Predicts Financial Extravagance in Parkinson’s Disease 
Impulse control disorders (ICDs), including disordered gambling, can occur in a significant number of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) receiving dopaminergic therapy. The neurobiology underlying susceptibility to such problems is unclear, but risk likely results from an interaction between dopaminergic medication and a pre-existing trait vulnerability. Impulse control and addictive disorders form part of a broader psychopathological spectrum of disorders, which share a common underlying genetic vulnerability, referred to as externalizing. The broad externalizing risk factor is a continuously varying trait reflecting vulnerability to various impulse control problems, manifested at the overt level by disinhibitory symptoms and at the personality level by antecedent traits such as impulsivity and novelty/sensation seeking. Trait “disinhibition” is thus a core endophenotype of ICDs, and a key target for neurobiological investigation. The ventral striatal dopamine system has been hypothesized to underlie individual variation in behavioral disinhibition. Here, we examined whether individual differences in ventral striatal dopamine synthesis capacity predicted individual variation in disinhibitory temperament traits in individuals with PD. Eighteen early-stage male PD patients underwent 6-[18F]Fluoro-l-DOPA (FDOPA) positron emission tomography scanning to measure striatal dopamine synthesis capacity, and completed a measure of disinhibited personality. Consistent with our predictions, we found that levels of ventral, but not dorsal, striatal dopamine synthesis capacity predicted disinhibited personality, particularly a propensity for financial extravagance. Our results are consistent with recent preclinical models of vulnerability to behavioral disinhibition and addiction proneness, and provide novel insights into the neurobiology of potential vulnerability to impulse control problems in PD and other disorders.
PMCID: PMC3583186  PMID: 23450713
dopa decarboxylase; dopamine; disordered gambling; externalizing; impulse control disorders; impulsivity; reward; ventral striatum
18.  Impulse control disorders and compulsive behaviors associated with dopaminergic therapies in Parkinson disease 
Neurology. Clinical Practice  2012;2(4):267-274.
Impulse control disorders (ICD) (most commonly pathologic gambling, hypersexuality, and uncontrollable spending) and compulsive behaviors can be triggered by dopaminergic therapies in Parkinson disease (PD). ICD are especially prevalent in patients receiving a dopamine agonist as part of their treatment regimen for PD, and have also been reported when dopamine agonists are used for other indications (e.g., restless legs syndrome). Although these iatrogenic disorders are common, affecting 1 in 7 patients with PD on dopamine agonists, they often elude detection by the treating physician. ICD lead to serious consequences, causing significant financial loss and psychosocial morbidity for many patients and families. ICD can appear at any time during treatment with dopamine agonists, sometimes within the first few months, but most often after years of treatment, particularly when patients receive dopamine agonists and levodopa together. In most cases ICD resolve if the dopamine agonist is withdrawn, and PD motor symptoms are managed with levodopa monotherapy. Familiarity with the clinical aspects, risk factors, pathophysiology, and management of ICD is essential for physicians using dopaminergic therapies to treat PD and other disorders.
PMCID: PMC3613210  PMID: 23634371
19.  Effects of Acute Pramipexole on Preference for Gambling-like Schedules of Reinforcement in Rats 
Psychopharmacology  2010;213(1):11-18.
Pramipexole and other direct dopamine agonist medications have been implicated in the development of impulsive behavior such as pathological gambling among those taking the drug to control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease or restless leg syndrome. Few laboratory studies examining pramipexole’s effects on gambling-like behavior have been conducted.
The present study used a rodent model approximating some aspects of human gambling to examine within-subject effects of acute pramipexole (0.03, 0.1, 0.18, & 0.3 mg/kg) on rat’s choices to earn food reinforcement by completing variable-ratio (i.e., gambling-like) or fixed-ratio response requirements.
In a condition in which the variable-ratio alternative was rarely selected, all but the lowest dose of pramipexole significantly increased choice of the variable-ratio alternative (an average of 15% above saline).. The same doses did not affect choice significantly in a control condition designed to evaluate the involvement of nonspecific drug effects. Pramipexole increased latencies to initiate trials (+ 9.12 s) and to begin response runs on forced-choice trials (variable-ratio: + 0.21 s; fixed-ratio: + 0.88 s), but did not affect measures of response perseveration (conditional probabilities of “staying”).
The findings are consistent with clinical reports linking pramipexole to the expression of increased gambling in humans. Results are discussed in the context of neurobehavioral evidence suggesting that dopamine agonists increase sensitivity to reward delay and disrupt appropriate feedback from negative outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3747984  PMID: 20814781
pramipexole; dopamine agonist; gambling; impulsive behavior; Parkinson’s disease; rat
20.  Extrastriatal dopaminergic abnormalities of DA homeostasis in Parkinson’s patients with medication-induced pathological gambling: A [11C] FLB-457 and PET study 
Neurobiology of disease  2012;48(3):519-525.
Impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling (PG) are a serious and common adverse effect of dopamine (DA) replacement medication in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Patients with PG have increased impulsivity and abnormalities in striatal DA, in common with behavioural and substance addictions in the non-PD population. To date, no studies have investigated the role of extrastriatal dopaminergic abnormalities in PD patients with PG. We used the PET radiotracer, [11C] FLB-457, with high-affinity for extrastriatal DA D2/3 receptors. 14 PD patients on DA agonists were imaged while they performed a gambling task involving real monetary reward and a control task. Trait impulsivity was measured with the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS). Seven of the patients had a history of PG that developed subsequent to DA agonist medication. Change in [11C] FLB-457 binding potential (BP) during gambling was reduced in PD with PG patients in the midbrain, where D2/D3 receptors are dominated by autoreceptors. The degree of change in [11C] FLB-457 binding in this region correlated with impulsivity. In the cortex, [11C] FLB-457 BP was significantly greater in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in PD patients with PG during the control task, and binding in this region was also correlated with impulsivity. Our findings provide the first evidence that PD patients with PG have dysfunctional activation of DA autoreceptors in the midbrain and low DA tone in the ACC. Thus, altered striatal and cortical DA homeostasis may incur vulnerability for the development of PG in PD, linked with the impulsive personality trait.
PMCID: PMC3465363  PMID: 22766031 CAMSID: cams2373
Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine agonists; Pathological gambling; Impulsivity
21.  A survey of impulse control disorders in Parkinson’s disease patients in Shanghai area and literature review 
Levodopa and dopamine agonists are the main treatments for Parkinson’s disease (PD) in recent years. Increased drug dosages are linked to some severe side effects, one of which is impulse control disorders (ICD). Many studies have reported the related risk factors of ICDs, such as dopamine agonist, male sex, younger age, earlier age of onset and so on. This study aims to investigate the incidence of ICD in Chinese PD patients from Shanghai area, explore the association of ICD with dopamine replacement therapy (DRT).
Two hundred seventeen PD patients were consecutively recruited from the Movement Disorder Clinic of Ruijin Hospital from March to October 2013. Minnesota Impulsive Disorders Interview was used to assess the PD patients. PD patients with possible ICD would undergo a further interview by a movement disorder specialist to confirm the diagnosis. Clinical information was also collected.
Nine PD patients (4.15 %) showed ICD behaviors as follows: hypersexuality (4, 1.84 %), pathological gambling (3, 1.38 %), binge eating (1, 0.46 %), compulsive shopping (1, 0.46 %). Compared with the non-ICD PD group, ICD PD group took more dopamine agonists (LED 119.4 ± 86.4 mg/d vs 60.5 ± 80.5 mg/d, P = 0.019), had higher total levodopa equivalent dosage (TLED 912.81 ± 878.73 mg/d vs 503.78 ± 359.14 mg/d, P = 0.031), and had higher H&Y stage (2.33 ± 0.87 vs 1.41 ± 0.52, p = 0.013). However, logistic regression analysis didn’t reveal the above factors as independent risk factors of ICD behaviors in our study.
The incidence of ICDs behaviors in PD patients in our study is much lower than in western countries. ICD-PD group took higher dopamine agonists and higher total levodopa equivalent dosage, even though logistic regression analysis didn’t reveal them as independent risk factors.
PMCID: PMC4758007  PMID: 26893825
Parkinson’s disease; ICD; Dopamine replacement therapy
22.  Proficient Motor Impulse Control in Parkinson Disease patients with Impulsive and Compulsive Behaviors 
Parkinson Disease (PD) patients treated with Dopamine Agonist therapy can develop maladaptive reward-driven behaviors, known as Impulse Control Disorder (ICD). In this study, we assessed if ICD patients have evidence of motor-impulsivity.
We used the stop-signal task in a cohort of patients with and without active symptoms of ICD to evaluate motor-impulsivity. Of those with PD, 12 were diagnosed with ICD symptoms (PD-ICD) and were assessed before clinical reduction of Dopamine Agonist medication; 12 were without symptoms of ICD [PD-control] and taking equivalent dosages of Dopamine Agonist. Levodopa, if present, was maintained in both settings. Groups were similar in age, duration, and severity of motor symptoms, levodopa co-therapy, and total levodopa daily dose. All were tested in the Dopamine Agonist medicated and acutely withdrawn (24 hours) state, in a counterbalanced manner. Primary outcome measures were mean reaction time to correct go trials (Go Reaction Time), and mean stop-signal reaction time (SSRT).
ICD patients produce faster SSRT than both Healthy Controls, and PD Controls. Faster SSRT in ICD patients is apparent in both Dopamine Agonist medication states. Also, we show unique dopamine medication effects on GoRT. In Dopamine Agonist monotherapy patients, Dopamine Agonist administration speeds Go Reaction Time. Conversely, in those with levodopa co-therapy, Dopamine Agonist administration slows Go Reaction Time.
PD patients with active ICD symptoms are significantly faster at stopping initiated motor actions, and this is not altered by acute Dopamine Agonist withdrawal. In addition, the effect of Dopamine Agonist on Go Reaction Time is strongly influenced by the presence or absence of levodopa, even though levodopa co-therapy does not appear to influence SSRT. We discuss these findings as they pertain to the multifaceted definition of ‘impulsivity,’ the lack of evidence for motor-impulsivity in PD-ICD, and dopamine effects on motor-control in PD.
PMCID: PMC4300241  PMID: 25459105
Dopamine Agonist; Parkinson Disease; Impulse Control Disorder; Inhibition; Motor impulsivity; Reaction Time
23.  Mechanisms of Individual Differences in Impulsive and Risky Choice in Rats 
Individual differences in impulsive and risky choice are key risk factors for a variety of maladaptive behaviors such as drug abuse, gambling, and obesity. In our rat model, ordered individual differences are stable across choice parameters, months of testing, and span a broad spectrum, suggesting that rats, like humans, exhibit trait-level impulsive and risky choice behaviors. In addition, impulsive and risky choices are highly correlated, suggesting a degree of correlation between these two traits. An examination of the underlying cognitive mechanisms has suggested an important role for timing processes in impulsive choice. In addition, in an examination of genetic factors in impulsive choice, the Lewis rat strain emerged as a possible animal model for studying disordered impulsive choice, with this strain demonstrating deficient delay processing. Early rearing environment also affected impulsive behaviors, with rearing in an enriched environment promoting adaptable and more self-controlled choices. The combined results with impulsive choice suggest an important role for timing and reward sensitivity in moderating impulsive behaviors. Relative reward valuation also affects risky choice, with manipulation of objective reward value (relative to an alternative reference point) resulting in loss chasing behaviors that predicted overall risky choice behaviors. The combined results are discussed in relation to domain-specific versus domain-general subjective reward valuation processes and the potential neural substrates of impulsive and risky choice.
PMCID: PMC5045043  PMID: 27695580
impulsive choice; risky choice; discounting; individual differences; rat
24.  Impulsive and Compulsive Behaviors in Parkinson’s Disease 
Background: Impulsive and compulsive behaviors (ICBs) are a heterogeneous group of conditions that may be caused by long-term dopaminergic replacement therapy (DRT) of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The spectrum of ICBs includes dopamine dysregulation syndrome (DDS), punding, and impulse control disorders (ICDs).
Contents: We made a detailed review regarding the epidemiology, pathology, clinical characteristics, risk factors, diagnosis as well as treatment of ICBs.
Results: The prevalence of ICBs in PD patients is approximately 3–4% for DDS, 0.34–4.2% for punding, and 6–14% for ICDs, with higher prevalence in Western populations than in Asian. Those who take high dose of levodopa are more prone to have DDS, whereas, ICDs are markedly associated with dopamine agonists. Different subtypes of ICBs share many risk factors such as male gender, higher levodopa equivalent daily dose, younger age at PD onset, history of alcoholism, impulsive, or novelty-seeking personality. The Questionnaire for Impulsive–Compulsive Disorder in Parkinson’s Disease-Rating Scale seems to be a rather efficacious instrument to obtain relevant information from patients and caregivers. Treatment of ICBs is still a great challenge for clinicians. Readjustment of DRT remains the primary method. Atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, amantadine, and psychosocial interventions are also prescribed in controlling episodes of psychosis caused by compulsive DRT, but attention should be drawn to balance ICBs symptoms and motor disorders. Moreover, deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus might be a potential method in controlling ICBs.
Conclusion: The exact pathophysiological mechanisms of ICBs in PD remains poorly understood. Further researches are needed not only to study the pathogenesis, prevalence, features, and risk factors of ICBs, but to find efficacious therapy for patients with these devastating consequences.
PMCID: PMC4231987  PMID: 25452726
Parkinson disease; impulsive control disorders; dopamine dysregulation syndrome; review; dopaminergic replacement therapy
25.  Dopaminergic and Clinical Correlates of Pathological Gambling in Parkinson’s Disease: A Case Report 
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 [11C]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 [11C]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.
PMCID: PMC3725950  PMID: 23908610
Parkinson’s disease; pathological gambling; impulse control disorders; decision-making; dopamine

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