Is there a Neurobiological Rationale for the Utility of the Iowa Gambling Task in Parkinson's Disease?




Salvatore, Michael F.
Soto, Isabel
Alphonso, Helene M.
Cunningham, Rebecca L.
James, Rachael
Nejtek, Vicki A.


0000-0001-6935-1739 (Nejtek, Vicki A.)
0000-0001-5984-5516 (Cunningham, Rebecca)

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IOS Press


Up to 23% of newly diagnosed, non-demented, Parkinson's disease (PD) patients experience deficits in executive functioning (EF). In fact, EF deficits may occur up to 39-months prior to the onset of motor decline. Optimal EF requires working memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, and response inhibition underlying appropriate decision-making. The capacity for making strategic decisions requires inhibiting imprudent decisions and are associated with noradrenergic and dopaminergic signaling in prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex. Catecholaminergic dysfunction and the loss of noradrenergic and dopaminergic cell bodies early in PD progression in the aforementioned cortical areas likely contribute to EF deficits resulting in non-strategic decision-making. Thus, detecting these deficits early in the disease process could help identify a significant portion of individuals with PD pathology (14-60%) before frank motor impairment. A task to evaluate EF in the domain of non-strategic decision-making might be useful to indicate the moderate loss of catecholamines that occurs early in PD pathology prior to motor decline and cognitive impairment. In this review, we focus on the potential utility of the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) for this purpose, given significant overlap between in loss of dopaminergic and noradrenergic cells bodies in early PD and the deficits in catecholamine function associated with decreased EF. As such, given the loss of catecholamines already well-underway after PD diagnosis, we evaluate the potential utility of the IGT to identify the risk of therapeutic non-compliance and a potential companion approach to detect PD in premotor stages.



Salvatore, M. F., Soto, I., Alphonso, H., Cunningham, R., James, R., & Nejtek, V. A. (2021). Is there a Neurobiological Rationale for the Utility of the Iowa Gambling Task in Parkinson's Disease?. Journal of Parkinson's disease, 11(2), 405-419.


© 2021 - The authors.


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