Impulsive personalities are considered to have a general impairment in cognitive flexibility and cortical inhibition. To examine this hypothesis we used a trial by trial Stroop task in impulsive and non impulsive patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and recorded errors and reaction times (RT). We tested 28 impulsive PD (PD+ICB) and 24 non impulsive PD (PD-ICB) patients prior to and after dopaminergic medication. These results were compared with 24 age matched normal controls. We found an increased error rate in all PD patients prior to their usual medication which resolved after medication. Furthermore patients on medication showed enhanced cognitive flexibility and shorter RT. There was no difference between non impulsive and impulsive PD patients. This suggests that the impulsive behaviours may not affect response inhibition tasks and the response inhibition required in the Stroop test does not engage the same processes that differentiate impulsive and non-impulsive PD patients, which likely involve mesolimbic dopamine.
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