Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

The researchers found that those who took the dopamine-boosting drug were better at predicting which choice would win more money, according to results to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Boston next week. However, when they lost, those with the dopamine boost did not behave any differently than those taking a placebo. “Dopamine teaches you to get what you want but not to avoid what you fear,” says Mathias Pessiglione, a neuroscientist now at the Salpetriere Hospital, in Paris, who led the study. “One can imagine that excessive levels of dompanine could create an imbalance between experiencing reward and experiencing punishment. That could explain the compulsive behavior observed with dopamine replacement therapy.”

In this case, dopamine likely acts by boosting the cellular changes that underlie learning, but only in the positive condition. “Dopamine acts in [the] brain by reinforcing synapses that lead to rewarding behavior,” says Pessiglione.

Further studies that will specifically examine Parkinson’s patients are now under way or in the planning stages.For example, Weintraub intends to use brain-imaging technologies to look specifically at dopamine levels in the brains of Parkinson’s patients with compulsive disorders, both while the patients take their medication and after they stop. Pessiglioneand his collaborators are now running similar tests on people with Parkinson’s disease, as well as Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorders, both of which have been linked to dopamine dysfunction.

Scientists hope that such studies will explain why some patients are more at risk of developing these behaviors than others are, and that the studies will ultimately help clinicians when prescribing drugs for their patients.

3 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Clara Natoli

Tagged: Biomedicine, drugs, disease, Parkinson's, addiction

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »