CNS Spectrums


Prefrontal cortex, dopamine, and jealousy endophenotype

Donatella Marazzitia1 c1, Michele Polettia2, Liliana Dell'Ossoa1, Stefano Baronia1 and Ubaldo Bonuccellia2

a1 Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Biotechnology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

a2 Department of Neuroscience, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy


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.

(Received August 03 2012)

(Accepted October 17 2012)


  • Default mode network;
  • delusion;
  • dopamine;
  • endophenotype;
  • jealousy;
  • Research Domain Criteria;
  • reward processing;
  • theory of mind social bonds;
  • ventromedial prefrontal cortex


c1 Address for correspondence: Donatella Marazziti, MD, Dipartimento di Psichiatria, Neurobiologia, Farmacologia e Biotecnologie, University of Pisa, Via Roma 67, 56100 Pisa, Italy. (Email