PARKINSON'S DISEASE RESEARCH
Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the dopaminergic system of the brain and the functioning of the basal ganglia; a complex neural network made up of smaller brain structures such as the subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra and striatum. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter vital to many different brain functions including voluntary movement control, learning, and decision making. Symptoms typically associated with Parkinson’s disease, such as tremor and bradykinesia, are caused by the breakdown of the dopaminergic system. Although the cause of the disorder is still unknown, treatments such as medication and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) are providing relief from symptoms such as tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity and difficultly walking.
Our lab (the LNCC) is currently working with Parkinson’s Disease patients on different types of treatments, including D2 agonist, Levodopa/Carbidopa medication and Deep Brain Stimulation, to investigate the role of the basal ganglia dopaminergic pathways in learning and decision making. Computer modeling of the basal ganglia dopamine system and its involvement in cognition has been useful for understanding medication effects and for making novel predictions regarding core cognitive deficits in PD. We supplement these investigations with EEG in order to investigate event-related potentials and oscillatory synchronization using time-frequency analysis.
The LNCC is currently using biologically based neural network models to gain a better understanding of Parkinson’s Disease. By doing so, we believe better treatments will follow.
We invite you to read the Michael J. Fox Foundation Newsletter and to visit the websites available on our resources page.
If you would like more information about our research, or would like to participate, please contact us.