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Levodopa medication improves incidental sequence learning in Parkinson's disease

Beigi, M; Wilkinson, L; Gobet, F; Parton, A; Jahanshahi, M; (2016) Levodopa medication improves incidental sequence learning in Parkinson's disease. Neuropsychologia , 93 pp. 53-60. 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.09.019. Green open access

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Abstract

Empirical evidence suggests that levodopa medication used to treat the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) may either improve, impair or not affect specific cognitive processes. This evidence led to the ‘dopamine overdose’ hypothesis that levodopa medication impairs performance on cognitive tasks if they recruit fronto-striatal circuits which are not yet dopamine-depleted in early PD and as a result the medication leads to an excess of dopamine. This hypothesis has been supported for various learning tasks including conditional associative learning, reversal learning, classification learning and intentional deterministic sequence learning, on all of which PD patients demonstrated significantly worse performance when tested on relative to off dopamine medication. Incidental sequence learning is impaired in PD, but how such learning is affected by dopaminergic therapy remains undetermined. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of dopaminergic medication on incidental sequence learning in PD. We used a probabilistic serial reaction time task (SRTT), a sequence learning paradigm considered to make the sequence less apparent and more likely to be learned incidentally rather than intentionally. We compared learning by the same group of PD patients (n=15) on two separate occasions following oral administration of levodopa medication (on state) and after overnight withdrawal of medication (off state). Our results demonstrate for the first time that levodopa medication enhances incidental learning of a probabilistic sequence on the serial reaction time task in PD. However, neither group significantly differed from performance of a control group without a neurological disease, which indicates the importance of within group comparisons for identifying deficits. Levodopa medication enhanced incidental learning by patients with PD on a probabilistic sequence learning paradigm even though the patients were not aware of the existence of the sequence or their acquired knowledge. The results suggest a role in acquiring incidental motor sequence learning for dorsal striatal areas strongly affected by dopamine depletion in early PD.

Type: Article
Title: Levodopa medication improves incidental sequence learning in Parkinson's disease
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.09.019
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016....
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Science & Technology, Social Sciences, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Behavioral Sciences, Neurosciences, Psychology, Experimental, Neurosciences & Neurology, Psychology, Parkinson's disease, Incidental sequence learning, Serial reaction time, Levodopa medication, Striatum, Basal ganglia, BASAL GANGLIA, COGNITIVE FUNCTION, IMPLICIT, STRIATUM, MEMORY, MODULATION, ATTENTION, TASK, PET
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1521317
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