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Levodopa and executive performance in Parkinson's disease: A randomized study



Parkinson's disease (PD) patients may experience fluctuations in executive performance after oral levodopa (LD). Their relationship with the pharmacokinetic profile of LD and with distinct cognitive processes associated with frontal-basal ganglia circuits is not well understood. In this randomized, double-blind, crossover study we plotted acute cognitive changes in 14 PD patients challenged with faster (immediate-release, IR) versus slower (controlled-release, CR) increases in LD plasma concentrations. We monitored motor status, LD plasma levels, and performance on four tasks of executive function (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test—WCST, Sternberg test, Stroop and Tower of Hanoi), 1 hr before and over +6 hr after IR and CR-LD dose. Analysis of variance demonstrated significant but divergent changes in the Sternberg (6-digit but not 2- and 4-digit) test: improvement after CR-LD and worsening after IR-LD. Marginal improvement (p = .085) was observed with CR-LD in the WCST, while no significant differences were seen for the Stroop or Tower of Hanoi tests. Executive-related performance after LD challenge may differ depending on the LD time-to-peak plasma concentration and specific task demands. A slower rise in LD levels appears to have a more favorable impact on more difficult working memory tests. These results require replication to determine their generalization. (JINS, 2008, 14, 832–841.)

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Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint request to: Jaime Kulisevsky, Neurology Department (Movement Disorders Unit), Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Calle Sant Antoni M. Claret, 167, 08025 Barcelona, Spain. E-mail:


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