It is well established that Parkinson's disease leads to impaired learning from reward and enhanced learning from punishment. The administration of dopaminergic medications reverses this learning pattern. However, few studies have investigated the neural underpinnings of these cognitive processes. In this study, using fMRI, we tested a group of Parkinson's disease patients on and off dopaminergic medications and matched healthy individuals. All individuals completed an fMRI cognitive task that dissociates feedback learning from reward versus punishment. The administration of dopaminergic medications attenuated blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) responses to punishment in the bilateral putamen, in bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the left premotor cortex. Further, the administration of dopaminergic medications resulted in a higher ratio of BOLD activity between reward and punishment trials in these brain areas. BOLD activity in these brain areas was significantly correlated with learning from punishment, but not from reward trials. Furthermore, the administration of dopaminergic medications altered BOLD activity in the right insula and ventromedial prefrontal cortex when Parkinson's disease patients were anticipating feedback. These findings are in agreement with a large body of literature indicating that Parkinson's disease is associated with enhanced learning from punishment. However, it was surprising that dopaminergic medications modulated punishment learning as opposed to reward learning, although reward learning has been directly linked to dopaminergic function. We argue that these results might be attributed to both a change in the balance between direct and indirect pathway activation in the basal ganglia as well as the differential activity of D1 versus D2 dopamine receptors.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|State||Published - 2018|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Parkinson's disease