Insights into pathophysiology of punding reveal possible treatment strategies

Mol Psychiatry. 2010 Jun;15(6):560-73. doi: 10.1038/mp.2009.95.


Punding is a stereotyped behavior characterized by an intense fascination with a complex, excessive, nongoal oriented, repetitive activity. Men tend to repetitively tinker with technical equipment such as radio sets, clocks, watches and car engines, the parts of which may be analyzed, arranged, sorted and cataloged but rarely put back together. Women, in contrast, incessantly sort through their handbags, tidy continuously, brush their hair or polish their nails. Punders are normally aware of the inapposite and obtuse nature of the behavior; however, despite the consequent self-injury, they do not stop such behavior. The most common causes of punding are dopaminergic replacement therapy in patients affected by Parkinson's disease (PD) and cocaine and amphetamine use in addicts. The vast majority of information about punding comes from PD cases. A critical review of these cases shows that almost all afflicted patients (90%) were on treatment with drugs acting mainly on dopamine receptors D1 and D2, whereas only three cases were reported in association with selective D2 and D3 agonists. Epidemiological considerations and available data from animal models suggest that punding, drug-induced stereotypies, addiction and dyskinesias all share a common pathophysiological process. Punding may be related to plastic changes in the ventral and dorsal striatal structures, including the nucleus accumbens, and linked to psychomotor stimulation and reward mechanisms. Possible management guidelines are proposed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine / adverse effects
  • Behavior, Addictive / complications
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Cocaine / adverse effects
  • Corpus Striatum / physiopathology
  • Dopamine Agonists / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stereotyped Behavior / drug effects*
  • Stereotyped Behavior / physiology*
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / chemically induced
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / therapy*


  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine