Introduction: Several theoretical accounts of the role of dopamine suggest that dopamine has an influence on the processing of affective stimuli. There is some indirect evidence for this from studies showing an association between the treatment with dopaminergic agents and self-reported affect. Materials and methods: We addressed this issue directly by examining the electrophysiological correlates of affective picture processing during a single-dose treatment with a dopamine D2 agonist (bromocriptine), a dopamine D2 antagonist (haloperidol), and a placebo. We compared early and late event-related brain potentials (ERPs) that have been associated with affective processing in the three medication treatment conditions in a randomized double-blind crossover design amongst healthy males. In each treatment condition, subjects attentively watched neutral, pleasant, and unpleasant pictures while ERPs were recorded. Results: Results indicate that neither bromocriptine nor haloperidol has a selective effect on electrophysiological indices of affective processing. In concordance with this, no effects of dopaminergic modulation on self-reported positive or negative affect was observed. In contrast, bromocriptine decreased overall processing of all stimulus categories regardless of their affective content. Discussion: The results indicate that dopaminergic D2 receptors do not seem to play a crucial role in the selective processing of affective visual stimuli.

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Keywords Affective processing, Bromocriptine, Dopamine, ERP, Haloperidol
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Journal Psychopharmacology
Franken, I.H.A, Nijs, I.M.T, & Pepplinkhuizen, L. (2008). Effects of dopaminergic modulation on electrophysiological brain response to affective stimuli. Psychopharmacology, 195(4), 537–546. doi:10.1007/s00213-007-0941-6