Skip to main content

Exercise Boosts Ventral Striatum Activity, Caudate Dopamine Release in PD

October 21, 2019

In people with Parkinson disease, aerobic exercise appears to increase both caudate dopamine release and ventral striatal activation, according to a study published online in the journal Movement Disorders. 

“Aerobic exercise alters the responsivity of the ventral striatum, likely related to changes to the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway, and increases evoked dopamine release in the caudate nucleus,” researchers wrote. “This suggests that the therapeutic benefits of exercise are in part related to corticostriatal plasticity and enhanced dopamine release.” 

The study randomly assigned 35 people with Parkinson disease to 36 sessions of aerobic exercise or to another intervention that functioned as a control. Before and after the assigned intervention, participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while playing a reward task to gauge any effect of exercise on activity of the ventral striatum during reward anticipation. Twenty-five participants also received positron emission tomography (PET) scans to investigate the effect of exercise on repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation‐evoked release of endogenous dopamine in the dorsal striatum. 

According to the study, fMRI scans showed increased activity in the ventral striatum during reward anticipation in people with Parkinson’s disease who participated in aerobic exercise.  

“The aerobic group also demonstrated increased repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation‐evoked dopamine release in the caudate nucleus,” researchers reported, “and increased baseline nondisplaceable binding potential in the posterior putamen of the less affected repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation‐stimulated hemisphere measured by position emission tomography.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Sacheli MA, Neva JL, Lakhani B, et al. Exercise increases caudate dopamine release and ventral striatal activation in Parkinson's disease [published online October 4, 2019]. Mov Disord. doi: 10.1002/mds.27865

Back to Top