Cognitive dysfunction and depression in Parkinson's disease: what can be learned from rodent models?

Eur J Neurosci. 2012 Jun;35(12):1894-907. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08162.x.


Parkinson's disease (PD) has for decades been considered a pure motor disorder and its cardinal motor symptoms have been attributed to the loss of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta and to nigral Lewy body pathology. However, there has more recently been a shift in the conceptualization of the disease, and its pathological features have now been recognized as involving several other areas of the brain and indeed even outside the central nervous system. There are a corresponding variety of intrinsic non-motor symptoms such as autonomic dysfunction, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances and neuropsychiatric problems, which cannot be explained exclusively by nigral pathology. In this review, we will focus on cognitive impairment and affective symptoms in PD, and we will consider whether, and how, these deficits can best be modelled in rodent models of the disorder. As only a few of the non-motor symptoms respond to standard DA replacement therapies, the quest for a broader therapeutic approach remains a major research effort, and success in this area in particular will be strongly dependent on appropriate rodent models. In addition, better understanding of the different models, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the available behavioural tasks, will result in better tools for evaluating new treatment strategies for PD patients suffering from these neuropsychological symptoms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Transgenic
  • alpha-Synuclein / genetics
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism


  • alpha-Synuclein