Stereotyped behavior and left-sided orientation biases, associated with the dopamine (DA) system, were observed in populations of the schizophrenia spectrum disorders. We investigated whether heightened DA concentrations influence both side biases and stereotyped responding in a visuo-motor computer task, in which 90, 180, and 270° rotated objects had to be brought into a target position. To account for the role of the schizophrenia spectrum, task performance was also analyzed as a function of healthy participants' high or low magical ideation (MI), a positive schizotypal feature. The first 36 participants (20 women) remained substance free. In a second sample, 20 men received levodopa and 20 men a placebo in a double-blind procedure. Results showed that high MI scorers responded more stereotyped than low MI scorers, without being specifically biased towards the left side. Rotation preferences toward one or the other side made high MI scorers less flexible for objects efficiently to be rotated into the opposite direction. This inflexibility may reflect impaired left hemisphere functioning. Unexpectedly, in the levodopa group, high MI scorers performed superior to low MI scorers. Since DA actions appear to follow an inverted U-shape function, the 'low' performing high MI scorers profited from the enhanced DA availability. Our observation in the levodopa group points to a dissociation between schizotypy and schizophrenia: while cognitive improvement in schizophrenia can occur after treatment with atypical neuroleptic agents, in our positive schizotypal participants a DA agonist resulted in improved task performance. This dissociation may point to protective neurochemical mechanisms preventing healthy schizotypes from developing full-blown psychotic symptoms.
|Translated title of the contribution||Nonstereotyped responding in positive schizotypy after a single dose of levodopa|
|Pages (from-to)||1741 - 1751|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2004|