Inhibition of unwanted response is an important function of the executive system. Since the inhibitory system is impaired in patients with dysregulated dopamine system, we examined dopamine neurotransmission in the human brain during processing of a task of executive inhibition. The experiment used a recently developed dynamic molecular imaging technique to detect and map dopamine released during performance of a modified Eriksen's flanker task. In this study, young healthy volunteers received an intravenous injection of a dopamine receptor ligand ( 11C-raclopride) after they were positioned in the PET camera. After the injection, volunteers performed the flanker task under Congruent and Incongruent conditions in a single scan session. They were required to inhibit competing options to select an appropriate response in the Incongruent but not in the Congruent condition. The PET data were dynamically acquired during the experiment and analyzed using two variants of the simplified reference region model. The analysis included estimation of a number of receptor kinetic parameters before and after initiation of the Incongruent condition. We found increase in the rate of ligand displacement (from receptor sites) and decrease in the ligand binding potential in the Incongruent condition, suggesting dopamine release during task performance. These changes were observed in small areas of the putamen and caudate bilaterally but were most significant on the dorsal aspect of the body of left caudate. The results provide evidence of dopaminergic processing of executive inhibition and demonstrate that neurochemical changes associated with cognitive processing can be detected and mapped in a single scan session using dynamic molecular imaging.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)