Abulia: The Pathology of "Will" and Dopaminergic Dysfunction in Brain-Injured Patients

Samir ALl-Adawi, J.H Powell, S. Basavappa, R.J. Greenwood


The present paper describes a series of single-case evaluations of the effects of bromocriptine, a dopamine D2 post-synaptic receptor agonist  in 13 patients with clinical features cf abulia. Method - An open trial in seven males and six females who had either traumatic brain injury or subarachnoid haemorrhage between two months and five years previously. After repeated baseline assessments, bromocriptine was administered in gradually increasing doses, Assessments were repeated at increasing doses, during maintenance, and after withdrawal. Same newly developed structured instruments for quantifying motivation were  used; measures of anxiety and depression, and cognitive tests sensitive to motivation were also administered. Results- Following bromocriptine treatment improved on all scores measured other than mood. Improvement was maintained after bromocriptine withdrawal in nine of the patients. Conclusion- Abulia in patients with brain injury may result from dysfunction in the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic cirucity, giving rise to associated deficiencies in reward responsiveness and cognitive function. New rating are propsed of motivation in brain injured patients.


Abulia, motivation, rewards, dopamine, bromocriptine, functional recovery, traumatic brain injury, subarachnoids haemorrhages, drug therapy, cognitive-processes

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

Copyright SQUMJ 2019. This journal and its content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives 4.0 International license.

Flag Counter