Motivation, reward, and Parkinson's disease: influence of dopatherapy

Neuropsychologia. 2002;40(13):2257-67. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(02)00108-2.


"Orbitofrontal" and "cingulate" striatofrontal loops and the mesolimbic dopaminergic system that modulates their function have been implicated in motivation and sensitivity to reinforcement in animals. Parkinson's disease (PD) provides a model to assess their implications in humans. The aims of the study were to investigate motivation and sensitivity to reinforcement in non-demented and -depressed PD patients and to evaluate the influence of dopaminergic therapy by comparing patients in "on" (with L-Dopa) and "off" (without L-Dopa) states. Twenty-three PD patients were compared, in both the "on" and "off" states, to 28 controls, using: (1) an Apathy Scale; (2) Stimulus-Reward Learning, Reversal, and Extinction tasks; and (3) a Gambling task. PD patients were found: (1) mildly apathetic; (2) impaired on Stimulus-Reward Learning and Reversal, but not on Extinction; and (3) able to progress in the Gambling task during the first, but not the second assessment. There was no significant correlation between these various deficits. L-Dopa treatment clearly improved motivation, but had more limited and contrasting effects on other variables, decreasing the number of omission errors in Reversal, but increasing the number of perseveration errors in Extinction. These results suggest: (1) an implication of striatofrontal loops in human motivation and explicit and implicit sensitivity to reinforcement; (2) a positive influence of L-Dopa treatment on the subjective evaluation of motivation, but contrasting effects on reward sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiparkinson Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / etiology
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Reward*


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Levodopa