Pramipexole is widely prescribed to treat Parkinson's disease but has been reported to cause impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling. Recent neurocomputational models suggested that D2 agonists may distort functional connections between the striatum and the motor cortex, resulting in impaired reinforcement learning and pathological gambling. To examine how D2 agonists modulate the striatal-motor connectivity, we carried out a pharmacological resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging study with a double-blind randomized within-subject crossover design. We analyzed the medication-induced changes of network connectivity and topology with two approaches, an independent component analysis (ICA) and a graph theoretical analysis (GTA). The ICA identified the sensorimotor network (SMN) as well as other classical resting-state networks. Within the SMN, the connectivity between the right caudate nucleus and other cortical regions was weaker under pramipexole than under placebo. The GTA measured the topological properties of the whole-brain network at global and regional levels. Both the whole-brain network under placebo and that under pramipexole were identified as small-world networks. The two whole-brain networks were similar in global efficiency, clustering coefficient, small-world index, and modularity. However, the degree of the right caudate nucleus decreased under pramipexole mainly due to the loss of the connectivity with the supplementary motor area, paracentral lobule, and precentral and postcentral gyrus of the SMN. The two network analyses consistently revealed that pramipexole weakened the functional connectivity between the caudate nucleus and the SMN regions.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)