Levodopa suppresses grid-like activity and impairs spatial learning in novel environments in healthy young adults

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


Accumulated evidence from animal studies suggests a role for the neuromodulator dopamine in memory processes, particularly under conditions of novelty or reward. Our understanding of how dopaminergic modulation impacts spatial representations and spatial memory in humans remains limited. Recent evidence suggests age-specific regulation effects of dopamine pharmacology on activity in the medial temporal lobe, a key region for spatial memory. To which degree this modulation affects spatially patterned medial temporal representations remains unclear. We reanalyzed recent data from a pharmacological dopamine challenge during functional brain imaging combined with a virtual object-location memory paradigm to assess the effect of Levodopa, a dopamine precursor, on grid-like activity in the entorhinal cortex. We found that Levodopa impaired grid cell-like representations in a sample of young adults (n = 55, age = 26-35 years) in a novel environment, accompanied by reduced spatial memory performance. We observed no such impairment when Levodopa was delivered to participants who had prior experience with the task. These results are consistent with a role of dopamine in modulating the encoding of novel spatial experiences. Our results suggest that dopamine signaling may play a larger role in shaping ongoing spatial representations than previously thought.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11247-11256
Number of pages10
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2023

External IDs

Scopus 85178521660
ORCID /0000-0001-9298-2125/work/150329279
ORCID /0000-0001-5398-5569/work/150329579
ORCID /0000-0001-9684-7705/work/150330565
ORCID /0000-0001-8409-5390/work/150330778
PubMed 37782941



  • Animals, Humans, Young Adult, Adult, Levodopa/pharmacology, Spatial Learning, Dopamine, Entorhinal Cortex/physiology, Spatial Memory