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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2011, Article ID 594860, 5 pages
Review Article

Imaging Impulsivity in Parkinson's Disease and the Contribution of the Subthalamic Nucleus

1Toronto Western Research Institute and Hospital, UHN, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 2S8
2PET Imaging Centre, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 2S8

Received 29 October 2010; Accepted 20 April 2011

Academic Editor: Irena Rektorova

Copyright © 2011 Nicola Ray et al. 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.


Taking risks is a natural human response, but, in some, risk taking is compulsive and may be detrimental. The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is thought to play a large role in our ability to inhibit responses. Differences between individuals' ability to inhibit inappropriate responses may underlie both the normal variation in trait impulsivity in the healthy population, as well as the pathological compulsions experienced by those with impulse control disorders (ICDs). Thus, we review the role of the STN in response inhibition, with a particular focus on studies employing imaging methodology. We also review the latest evidence that disruption of the function of the STN by deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson's disease can increase impulsivity.