Dopamine modulates the response of the human amygdala: A study in Parkinson's disease

Alessandro Tessitore, Ahmad R. Hariri, Francesco Fera, William G. Smith, Thomas N. Chase, Thomas M. Hyde, Daniel R. Weinberger, Venkata S. Mattay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In addition to classic motor signs and symptoms, Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by neuropsychological and emotional deficits, including a blunted emotional response. In the present study, we explored both the neural basis of abnormal emotional behavior in PD and the physiological effects of dopaminergic therapy on the response of the amygdala, a central structure in emotion processing. PD patients and matched normal controls (NCs) were studied with blood oxygenation level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a paradigm that involved perceptual processing of fearful stimuli. PD patients were studied twice, once during a relatively hypodopaminergic state (i.e., ≥12 hr after their last dose of dopamimetic treatment) and again during a dopamine-replete state. The imaging data revealed a robust bilateral amygdala response in NCs that was absent in PD patients during the hypodopaminergic state. Dopamine repletion partially restored this response in PD patients. Our results demonstrate an abnormal amygdala response in PD that may underlie the emotional deficits accompanying the disease. Furthermore, consistent with findings in experimental animal paradigms, our results provide in vivo evidence of the role of dopamine in modulating the response of the amygdala to sensory information in human subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9099-9103
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Depression
  • Dopamine
  • Modulating emotions
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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