Visual evoked potentials in parkinsonism and dopamine blockade reveal a stimulus-dependent dopamine function in humans.
VEPs were recorded with three different spatial frequencies of stimulation in patients affected by idiopathic Parkinsonism and by Parkinsonian syndromes. The detection of VEP abnormalities in Parkinson's disease was dependent on the spatial frequency of the visual stimulus (a vertical square wave grating). The VEP latency was normal in Parkinsonian syndrome patients (except in one patient affected by familial Parkinsonism). Dopamine precursor therapy differently reduced the VEP latency, depending on the spatial frequency of the visual stimulus. These findings suggest that the dopaminergic mechanism involved in the generation of VEP delays is sensitive to stimulus spatial frequency. The study of VEPs before and after the administration of haloperidol confirmed this hypothesis. VEP latency did not correlate with the major clinical symptoms of Parkinson's disease and could not predict the results of chronic dopaminergic therapy.