Impulse control disorders in Parkinson's disease are associated with dysfunction in stimulus valuation but not action valuation

Payam Piray*, Yashar Zeighami, Fariba Bahrami, Abeer M. Eissa, Doaa H. Hewedi, Ahmed A. Moustafa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


A substantial subset of Parkinson's disease (PD) patients suffers from impulse control disorders (ICDs), which are side effects of dopaminergic medication. Dopamine plays a key role in reinforcement learning processes. One class of reinforcement learning models, known as the actor-critic model, suggests that two components are involved in these reinforcement learning processes: a critic, which estimates values of stimuli and calculates prediction errors, and an actor, which estimates values of potential actions. To understand the information processing mechanism underlying impulsive behavior, we investigated stimulus and action value learning from reward and punishment in four groups of participants: on-medication PD patients with ICD, on-medication PD patients without ICD, off-medication PD patients without ICD, and healthy controls. Analysis of responses suggested that participants used an actor-critic learning strategy and computed prediction errors based on stimulus values rather than action values. Quantitative model fits also revealed that an actor-critic model of the basal ganglia with different learning rates for positive and negative prediction errors best matched the choice data. Moreover, whereas ICDs were associated with model parameters related to stimulus valuation (critic), PD was associated with parameters related to action valuation (actor). Specifically, PD patients with ICD exhibited lower learning from negative prediction errors in the critic, resulting in an underestimation of adverse consequences associated with stimuli. These findings offer a specific neurocomputational account of the nature of compulsive behaviors induced by dopaminergic drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7814-7824
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


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