Dopamine and Consolidation of Episodic Memory: Timing Is Everything

John Grogan, Rafal Bogacz, Demitra Tsivos, Alan Whone, Elizabeth Coulthard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Memory consolidation underpins that adaptive behavior and dopaminergic networks may be critical for prolonged, selective information storage. To understand the time course of the dopaminergic contribution to memory consolidation in humans, here we investigate the effect of dopaminergic medication on recall and recognition in the short and longer term in Parkinson's disease (PD). Fifteen people with PD were each tested on or off dopaminergic medication during learning/early consolidation (Day 1) and/or late consolidation (Day 2). Fifteen age-matched healthy participants were tested only once. On Day 1 participants learnt new information, and early episodic memory was tested after 30 min. Then on Day 2, recall and recognition were retested after a 24-hr delay. Participants on medication on Day 1 recalled less information at 30 min and 24 hr. In contrast, patients on medication on Day 2 (8-24 hr after learning) recalled more information at 24 hr than those off medication. Although recognition sensitivity was unaffected by medication, response bias was dependent on dopaminergic state: Medication during learning induced a more liberal bias 24 hr later, whereas patients off medication during learning were more conservative responders 24 hr later . We use computational modeling to propose possible mechanisms for this change in response bias. In summary, dopaminergic medication in PD patients during learning impairs early consolidation of episodic memory and makes delayed responses more liberal but enhances late memory consolidation presumably through a dopamine-dependent consolidation pathway that may be active during sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2015


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