Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with emotional abnormalities. Dopaminergic medications ameliorate Parkinsonian motor symptoms, but less is known regarding the impact of dopaminergic agents on affective processing, particularly in depressed PD (dPD) patients. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of dopaminergic pharmacotherapy on brain activation to emotional stimuli in depressed versus nondepressed Parkinson disease (ndPD) patients. Participants included 18 ndPD patients (11 men, 7 women) and 10 dPD patients (7 men, 3 women). Patients viewed photographs of emotional faces during functional MRI. Scans were performed while the patient was taking anti-Parkinson medication and the day after medication had been temporarily discontinued. Results indicate that dopaminergic medications have opposite effects in the prefrontal cortex depending upon depression status. DPD patients show greater deactivation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) on dopaminergic medications than off, while ndPD patients show greater deactivation in this region off drugs. The VMPFC is in the default-mode network (DMN). DMN activity is negatively correlated with activity in brain systems used for external visual attention. Thus dopaminergic medications may promote increased attention to external visual stimuli among dPD patients but impede normal suppression of DMN activity during external stimulation among ndPD patients.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Parkinson's Disease, v. 2015, article 513452, p. 1-11.

Copyright © 2015 Anders H. Andersen et al.

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Grant R01MH78228 (Lee X. Blonder) and by the Department of Veterans Affairs (John T. Slevin).