The pattern visual evoked potential (PVEP) and pattern electroretinogram (PERG) were studied in 5 cynomolgus monkeys before and during the development of a parkinsonian syndrome induced by MPTP. The stimuli were vertical bars of four spatial frequencies (0.5, 1.2, 2.5 and 3.5 cycles/degree (cpd) modulated at temporal rates of 1, 4, 6, and 8 Hz. Following MPTP administration, all monkeys developed parkinsonian signs accompanied by changes in the amplitude and latency of the PVEP and PERG. Sinemet L-dopat carbi olopa administration produced temporary recovery of both PVEP and PERG. Two of the monkeys were followed for a prolonged period: 30–40 days after MPTP, the parkinsonian signs showed partial recovery; the PVEP latency and amplitude to 2.5 and 3.5 cpd stimuli and the latency to 1.2 cpd showed improvement but remained abnormal. The latencies of PERGs were normal, but the amplitudes were significantly reduced when stimuli of 2.5 and 3.5 cpd were used. Both PVEP and PERG to 0.5 cpd stimuli returned to normal. No further modifications were seen in the recordings performed 6 months and 1 year later. This study demonstrates (1) that spatial frequency-dependent electrophysiological abnormalities occur in the MPTP-treated monkey, a result previously found in human Parkinson's disease, and (2) that dopamine has a specific function in neurotransmission in the visual system of primates.

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