Effects of dopamine on reinforcement learning in Parkinson's disease depend on motor phenotype
Number of pages
SourceBrain, 143, 11, (2020), pp. 3422-3434
Article / Letter to editor
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PI Group Motivational & Cognitive Control
PI Group Systems Neurology
SW OZ DCC CO
PI Group Intention and Action
SW OZ DCC SMN
Subject111 000 Intention & Action; 170 000 Motivational & Cognitive Control; 240 Systems Neurology; Action, intention, and motor control; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Radboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Parkinson's disease is clinically defined by bradykinesia, along with rigidity and tremor. However, the severity of these motor signs is greatly variable between individuals, particularly the presence or absence of tremor. This variability in tremor relates to variation in cognitive/motivational impairment, as well as the spatial distribution of neurodegeneration in the midbrain and dopamine depletion in the striatum. Here we ask whether interindividual heterogeneity in tremor symptoms could account for the puzzlingly large variability in the effects of dopaminergic medication on reinforcement learning, a fundamental cognitive function known to rely on dopamine. Given that tremor-dominant and non-tremor Parkinson's disease patients have different dopaminergic phenotypes, we hypothesized that effects of dopaminergic medication on reinforcement learning differ between tremor-dominant and non-tremor patients. Forty-three tremor-dominant and 20 non-tremor patients with Parkinson's disease were recruited to be tested both OFF and ON dopaminergic medication (200/50 mg levodopa-benserazide), while 22 age-matched control subjects were recruited to be tested twice OFF medication. Participants performed a reinforcement learning task designed to dissociate effects on learning rate from effects on motivational choice (i.e. the tendency to 'Go/NoGo' in the face of reward/threat of punishment). In non-tremor patients, dopaminergic medication improved reward-based choice, replicating previous studies (Frank et al., 2004; Cools et al., 2006). In contrast, in tremor-dominant patients, dopaminergic medication improved learning from punishment. Formal modelling showed divergent computational effects of dopaminergic medication as a function of Parkinson's disease motor phenotype, with a modulation of motivational choice bias and learning rate in non-tremor and tremor patients, respectively. This finding establishes a novel cognitive/motivational difference between tremor and non-tremor Parkinson's disease patients, and highlights the importance of considering motor phenotype in future work.
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