Altered Impulsivity Across Drug-Naïve Parkinsonism, Isolated Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder, and Their High-Risk Relatives

Ann Neurol. 2024 Mar;95(3):544-557. doi: 10.1002/ana.26836. Epub 2024 Jan 2.


Objective: To determine multidimensional impulsivity levels across different early stages of α-synucleinopathy.

Methods: This cross-sectional study investigated motor and decisional impulsivity levels using a panel of computerized tasks among drug-naïve parkinsonism patients, isolated/idiopathic rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (iRBD) patients and their first-degree relatives (iRBD-FDRs), and control participants. Trait impulsivity and impulse control behaviors were assessed by self-reported questionnaires.

Results: A total of 27 drug-naïve parkinsonism patients, 157 iRBD patients, 66 iRBD-FDRs, and 82 control participants were recruited. Parkinsonism and iRBD patients had fewer numbers of extracted beads in beads task 1 and 2 (both p < 0.001), and a higher rate of irrational choice in task 1 (p = 0.046) before making decisions, and fewer numbers of pumps of unexploded blue balloons in the balloon analog risk task (p = 0.004) than control participants, indicating a higher level of reflection impulsivity and a lower level of risk taking, respectively. iRBD patients had more no-go errors in the go/no-go task than control participants (padjusted = 0.036), suggesting a higher level of motor impulsivity. iRBD-FDRs with dream-enactment behaviors had fewer numbers of extracted beads (p = 0.047) in beads task 2 than FDRs without dream-enactment behaviors, suggesting a possible higher level of reflection impulsivity.

Interpretation: A complex construct of altered impulsivity with decreased risk taking, but increased reflection and motor impulsivity, has already occurred at the prodromal and early stages of α-synucleinopathy, which have implications for underlying pathophysiology and clinical management of α-synucleinopathy, especially for impulse control behaviors upon dopaminergic drug treatment. ANN NEUROL 2024;95:544-557.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Parkinsonian Disorders*
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder*
  • Synucleinopathies*