Age-related cognitive deficits mediated by changes in the striatal dopamine system

Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Apr;157(4):635-7. doi: 10.1176/ajp.157.4.635.


Objective: The study examined the influence of losses in dopaminergic function on age-related cognitive deficits.

Method: Eleven healthy subjects (21-68 years of age) completed a set of cognitive tasks used to assess perceptual speed and episodic memory. D(2) receptor binding was measured in the caudate and the putamen by using positron emission tomography.

Results: A gradual age-related deterioration was found for all cognitive tasks and for D(2) binding in both striatal structures. Statistical control of D(2) binding eliminated the age-related cognitive variation, whereas residual effects of D(2) binding were seen after the analysis controlled for age.

Conclusions: D(2) receptor binding is a more important factor than chronological age in accounting for variation in cognitive performance across the adult lifespan. Changes in dopaminergic neurotransmission play an important role in aging-related cognitive decline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Corpus Striatum / chemistry*
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Humans


  • Dopamine