Effects of dopamine on reinforcement learning and consolidation in Parkinson’s disease

John Grogan, Demitra Tsivos, Laura Smith, Brogan Knight, Rafal Bogacz, Alan Whone, Liz Coulthard

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

37 Citations (Scopus)
423 Downloads (Pure)


Emerging evidence suggests that dopamine may modulate learning and memory with important implications for understanding the neurobiology of memory and future therapeutic targeting. An influential hypothesis posits that dopamine biases reinforcement learning. More recent data also suggest an influence during both consolidation and retrieval. Eighteen Parkinson’s disease patients learned through feedback ON or OFF medication with memory tested 24 hours later ON or OFF medication (4 conditions, within-subjects design with matched healthy control group). Patients OFF medication during learning decreased in memory accuracy over the following 24 hours. In contrast to previous studies, however, dopaminergic medication during learning and testing did not affect expression of positive or negative reinforcement. Two further experiments were run without the 24-hour delay, but they too failed to reproduce effects of dopaminergic medication on reinforcement learning. While supportive of a dopaminergic role in consolidation, this study failed to replicate previous findings on reinforcement learning.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere26801
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2017

Structured keywords

  • Memory


  • Aged
  • Dopamine Agents/administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory/drug effects
  • Parkinson Disease/drug therapy
  • Reinforcement (Psychology)
  • Treatment Outcome


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