The role of dopamine in action control: Insights from medication effects in Parkinson's disease

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2021 Aug;127:158-170. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.04.023. Epub 2021 Apr 24.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurological disorder associated primarily with overt motor symptoms. Several studies show that PD is additionally accompanied by impairments in covert cognitive processes underlying goal-directed motor functioning (e.g., action planning, conflict adaptation, inhibition), and that dopaminergic medication may modulate these action control components. In this review we aim to leverage findings from studies in this domain to elucidate the role of dopamine (DA) in action control. A qualitative review of studies that investigated the effects of medication status (on vs. off) on action control in PD suggests a component-specific role for DA in action control, although the expression of medication effects depends on characteristics of both the patients and experimental tasks used to measure action control. We discuss these results in the light of findings from other research lines examining the role of DA in action control (e.g., animal research, pharmacology), and recommend that future studies use multi-method, within-subject approaches to model DA effects on action control across different components as well as underlying striatal pathways (ventral vs. dorsal).

Keywords: Action control; Dopamine; Motor function; Parkinson’s disease; Striatal pathways.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corpus Striatum
  • Dopamine Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dopamine*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Parkinson Disease* / drug therapy


  • Dopamine Agents
  • Dopamine