Dopamine and memory function in Parkinson's disease

Mov Disord. 1989;4(2):113-20. doi: 10.1002/mds.870040202.


Response fluctuations in motor function, complicating long-term dopaminomimetic therapy of Parkinson's disease, may extend to the cognitive realm. To evaluate the effect of levodopa treatment both on attention as well as acquisition and retrieval of memory tasks, parkinsonian patients were examined neuropsychologically both while medicated with levodopa/carbidopa ("on") and when the medication's antiparkinsonian effect had worn off ("off"). Significant cognitive differences emerged only on the delayed recall of complex verbal materials, where patients when "on" performed better compared with their "off" state. Comparison of change scores across states (administration or withholding of levodopa/carbidopa between acquisition and retrieval, "off" to "on" or "on" to "off"), revealed no substantial differences as a function of dopaminomimetic therapy. These results support the view that slight changes in cognition are associated with dopaminomimetic therapy of Parkinson's disease, but that these changes may be task-specific.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Carbidopa / administration & dosage
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Drug Combinations / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission* / drug effects
  • Verbal Learning / physiology


  • Drug Combinations
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • carbidopa, levodopa drug combination
  • Levodopa
  • Carbidopa
  • Dopamine