Dynamics of Executive Control and Motor Deficits in Parkinsonian Rats


  • Courtiere A.
  • Hardouin J.
  • Burle Boris
  • Vidal F.
  • Turle-Lorenzo N.
  • Amalric Marianne
  • Hasbroucq T.

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While there is general agreement that in Parkinson’s disease (PD), striatal dopamine (DA) depletion causes motor deficits, the origin of the associated cognitive impairments remains a matter of debate. The present study aimed to decipher the influence of a partial 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesion of striatal DA nerve terminals in rats performing a reaction time task previously used to assess cognitive deficits in PD patients. The effects of two behavioral manipulations—foreperiod duration and stimulus–response congruence— known to affect motor processes and executive control, respectively, were studied over 8 weeks postsurgery in control and lesionanimals. Two weeks after surgery, the lesion abolished the effect of foreperiod, confirming the direct involvement of striatal DA in motor processes, but failed to alter the effect of congruence. During the following weeks, the effect of foreperiod was reinstated, indicating a recovery of lesion-induced motor symptoms. This recovery was accompanied by a progressive increase of the congruence effect, signaling an executive control deficit in lesion animals. This result provides the first evidence that 6-OHDA lesioned rats exhibit the same cognitive impairment as PD patients in this task. The deficit, however, built up progressively after the lesion and may result from adaptations mitigating lesion-induced motor deficits.

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