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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 26, Issue 4, Pages 237-244

The Pathophysiology of Impulse control Disorders in Parkinson Disease

Sharmili Balarajah1 and Andrea Eugenio Cavanna1,2

1Department of Neuropsychiatry, The Michael Trimble Neuropsychiatry Research Group, BSMHFT and University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
2Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology and University College London, London, UK

Received 22 May 2012; Accepted 22 May 2012

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aims: This review aims to evaluate the most recent evidence on the pathophysiology of impulse control disorders (ICDs) in Parkinson disease (PD).

Methods: Computerised searches of Medline, Embase and PsycInfo, along with manual searches for grey literature, were conducted and resulted in a total of 16 studies suitable for review.

Results: Evidence was divided into four categories: medication used in PD management, imaging studies, genetic analysis and subthalamic deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS). Analysis of the literature reveals that both intrinsic and extrinsic factors may play a role in the pathophysiology of ICDs in PD. Dysfunction of the mesocorticolimbic pathway and polymorphisms of the dopamine D3 and D4 receptors may increase an individual's susceptibility to the development of ICDs.

Discussion: Dopaminergic medication, particularly dopamine agonists (DAs), increases the risk of developing impulsive behaviours in a PD patient. Further evidence, particularly in the form of prospective studies and randomised controlled trials is required to better establish the pathophysiology of ICDs in PD.