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Prefrontal cortex, dopamine, and jealousy endophenotype

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2012

Donatella Marazziti*
Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Biotechnology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Michele Poletti
Department of Neuroscience, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Liliana Dell'Osso
Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Biotechnology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Stefano Baroni
Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Biotechnology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Ubaldo Bonuccelli
Department of Neuroscience, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
*Address for correspondence: Donatella Marazziti, MD, Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie, University of Pisa, Via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy. (Email


Jealousy is a complex emotion characterized by the perception of a threat of loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a relationship with a loved one, which includes affective, cognitive, and behavioral components. Neural systems and cognitive processes underlying jealousy are relatively unclear, and only a few neuroimaging studies have investigated them. The current article discusses recent empirical findings on delusional jealousy, which is the most severe form of this feeling, in neurodegenerative diseases. After reviewing empirical findings on neurological and psychiatric disorders with delusional jealousy, and after considering its high prevalence in patients with Parkinson's disease under dopamine agonist treatment, we propose a core neural network and core cognitive processes at the basis of (delusional) jealousy, characterizing this symptom as possible endophenotype. In any case, empirical investigation of the neural bases of jealousy is just beginning, and further studies are strongly needed to elucidate the biological roots of this complex emotion.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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