Nonlinear effects of dopamine D1 receptor activation on visuomotor coordination task performance

Po See Chen, Asif Jamil, Lin Cho Liu, Shyh Yuh Wei, Huai Hsuan Tseng, Michael A. Nitsche, Min Fang Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Dopamine plays an important role in the modulation of neuroplasticity, which serves as the physiological basis of cognition. The physiological effects of dopamine depend on receptor subtypes, and the D1 receptor is critically involved in learning and memory formation. Evidence from both animal and human studies shows a dose-dependent impact of D1 activity on performance. However, the direct association between physiology and behavior in humans remains unclear. In this study, four groups of healthy participants were recruited, and each group received placebo or medication inducing a low, medium, or high amount of D1 activation via the combination of levodopa and a D2 antagonist. After medication, fMRI was conducted during a visuomotor learning task. The behavioral results revealed an inverted U-shaped effect of D1 activation on task performance, where medium-dose D1 activation led to superior learning effects, as compared to placebo as well as low- and high-dose groups. A respective dose-dependent D1 modulation was also observed for cortical activity revealed by fMRI. Further analysis demonstrated a positive correlation between task performance and cortical activation at the left primary motor cortex. Our results indicate a nonlinear curve of D1 modulation on motor learning in humans and the respective physiological correlates in corresponding brain areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5346-5355
Number of pages10
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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