Personality, addiction, dopamine: insights from Parkinson's disease

Neuron. 2009 Feb 26;61(4):502-10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.01.031.


In rare instances, patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) may become addicted to their own medication or develop behavioral addictions such as pathological gambling. This is surprising because PD patients typically have a very low incidence of drug abuse and display a personality type that is the polar opposite of the addictive personality. These rare addictive syndromes, which appear to result from excessive dopaminergic medication use, illustrate the link between dopamine, personality, and addiction. We describe the clinical phenomena and attempt to relate them to current models of learning and addiction. We conclude that persistently elevated dopaminergic stimulation promotes the development and maintenance of addictive behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiopathology*
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Neostriatum / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Personality / physiology*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology


  • Antiparkinson Agents
  • Dopamine