, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 36–46

Sensorimotor effects of pergolide, a dopamine agonist, in healthy subjects: a lateralized readiness potential study

Original Investigation



The major purpose of the present study was to further elucidate dopaminergic modulation of sensorimotor processing in healthy human subjects.

Materials and Methods

To more specifically analyze dopaminergic effects on premotor and motor stages of sensorimotor processing, lateralized readiness potentials (LRPs) were obtained. In a randomized double-blind crossover design, either 0.075 mg of the D1/D2 dopamine (DA) agonist pergolide or placebo were administered to 12 healthy male volunteers ranging from 19 to 25 years in age. The subjects performed a two-choice visual reaction time task. In addition to behavioral measures, such as response speed and error rate, stimulus-locked LRP (S-LRP) and response-locked LRP (LRP-R) latencies were determined. To better dissociate potential central and peripheral motor effects, measures of response dynamics and response-locked electromyogram (EMG-R) recordings were also obtained.


Pergolide reliably enhanced speed of stimulus-related information processing as indicated by shorter S-LRP latencies while LRP-R latencies, reaction time, and indicators of response dynamics were not influenced by DA agonistic treatment. Furthermore, lower EMG-R amplitudes and an increased number of wrong-hand responses were observed under pergolide compared to placebo.


The results indicate that dopaminergic neurotransmission effectively modulates early perceptual and cognitive stages of information processing as suggested by neural network models of the functional role of prefrontal DA. The lack of an effect on aspects of motor processing may be due to a higher capacity of the nigrostriatal compared to the mesocortical DA system to compensate pharmacologically induced changes in dopaminergic activity.


Pergolide Healthy subjects Sensorimotor processing LRP Reaction time 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georg-Elias-Müller-Institut für PsychologieUniversität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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