Dopamine has been hypothesized to modulate response inhibition. To test this hypothesis, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the effects of the dopamine prodrug levodopa on the brain responses to a well-validated response inhibition task (go/no-go, or GNG). Since abnormalities of response inhibition and dopamine have been thought to underlie tics and other symptoms of Tourette syndrome, we studied 8 neuroleptic-naive adults with tic disorders as well as 10 well-matched healthy controls. Subjects were pretreated with the peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor carbidopa, then scanned during GNG and control blocks, both before and during i.v. levodopa infusion. Both groups had similar task performance and task-related regional brain activity before and during levodopa infusion. Levodopa did not affect reaction times or accuracy, so fMRI findings can be interpreted without concern that they simply reflect a performance difference between conditions. Levodopa did affect the magnitude of GNG-related fMRI responses in the right cerebellum and right parietal cortex, significantly reducing both. Pre-levodopa activity in the right cerebellum correlated with reaction times (higher magnitudes associated with faster reaction times), and pre-levodopa activity in the right parietal cortex correlated with false alarm rate (higher magnitudes associated with higher error). In summary, right parietal and cerebellar regions important in mediating specific aspects of the GNG task were modulated by levodopa, suggesting a region-specific role for dopamine in response inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-448
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Cerebellum
  • Chronic multiple motor tic disorder
  • Cognition
  • Dopamine
  • Inhibition (psychology)
  • Levodopa
  • Neural basis of behavior
  • Parietal cortex
  • Reaction time
  • Tourette syndrome
  • fMRI


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