SSTP Mentor Discusses New Approach to Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Past SSTP mentor, neurologist Nandakumar Narayanan, studies Parkinson’s Disease. He and his research team have made an important breakthrough in understanding the disease as well as potential treatments. They explain these breakthroughs in an article from Iowa Now.

narayanan

Neurologist Nandakumar Narayanan

His team found that timing makes an ideal tool to study cognitive problems in Parkinson’s Disease. By studying timing and cognitive abilities in human and mice with Parkinson’s Disease, the team discovered the importance of something called the delta brain wave. In healthy animals and humans, this wave is present in brain activity. However, in patients with PD, this wave is absent. By studying the neurocircuitry behind timing, Narayanan was able to use optogenetics to further investigate these findings.

optogenetics

Researchers activated a certain dopamine receptor in mice using light pulses. This resulted in no change in healthy mice, but, when activated at the same frequency as the delta wave signal, mice with impaired cognitive ability suddenly recovered their abilities. The study was published in Current Biology on December 15th. The results suggest that this type of brain stimulation could be used to improve these cognitive issues in patients with PD.

Read the full article here.

Images from Iowa Now and The Scientific Student.

 

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