We tested the hypothesis that age-related time production deficits are dopamine-mediated. The experiment was conducted double-blind, and with random assignment of 32 healthy aged and 32 healthy young participants to either inert placebo or levodopa (200 mg) groups. The procedure included training participants to produce two target time intervals (6 and 17 sec) in separate blocks, drug/placebo administration, a 1-hr delay, and then delayed free-recall time production retesting without feedback. Participants also performed a speeded choice reaction time (RT) task, as a control for potential dopaminergic and aging effects on attention and psychomotor speed. Results indicate that during retesting, aged participants show duration-dependent timing errors that are larger than those shown by the young participants. Levodopa administration yielded lengthened time production of both target intervals. The aging and levodopa effects did not interact. Also, aging slowed RT and increased RT variability, but levodopa had no effect on the RT. These results suggest that at this dosage and under these specific conditions, timing is dopamine-mediated but the effect of aging on time production is not. Moreover, the levodopa timing effect cannot be attributed to the effects of dopaminergic function on psychomotor speed.

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