Neural Modulation of Working Memory by Levodopa in Parkinson's Disease


Tamara Hershey, Ph.D.
Washington University, School of Medicine


Dysfunction of the dopaminergic pathways has been the non-specific cause suggested for working memory impairment seen in PD patients. Whether this dysfunction is due to the disease itself or to symptomatic treatments has not been understood. Dr. Tamara Hershey of Washington University (St. Louis) will compare the results of testing the working memories of ten patients using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) after having first levodopa and at another time a saline solution infused. These data will then be compared with results from ten age- and sex-matched control subjects. This study may provide a better understanding of PD's effect on memory.

Progress Report (as of 3/2003)

Funding enabled Dr. Tamara Hershey and her Washington University group (Saint Louis) to use the methods of gathering data gained from an earlier trial with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome patients and controls in a similar fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imging) study in PD patients and control subjects. They are now performing the analyses of these fMRI tests in order to prove their hypothesis that levodopa, as opposed to the control substance, saline, (neuro)modulates working memory, particularly in PD patients.

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