Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research Explains Possible Origin Of Parkinson's Tremors

Date:
May 23, 2002
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
A mathematician at Ohio State University and his colleagues may have found the origin of tremors suffered by people with Parkinson's disease. This work could potentially aid the development of new treatments for Parkinson's and other neurological conditions, said David Terman, professor of mathematics at Ohio State.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A mathematician at Ohio State University and his colleagues may have found the origin of tremors suffered by people with Parkinson's disease. This work could potentially aid the development of new treatments for Parkinson's and other neurological conditions, said David Terman, professor of mathematics at Ohio State.

When researchers constructed a computer model of electrochemical activity in a Parkinson's-affected brain, they noticed unusual patterns in the way brain cells fired signals back and forth.

"In a normal brain, every cell is doing its own thing, and the signals create a random pattern," Terman said. "But in our model, we saw cells firing together in lockstep, creating a synchronized pattern that matched the timing of Parkinson's tremors."

The finding, reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, could help solve a long-standing mystery in the medical community. Loss of the neurotransmitter dopamine is generally believed to be the cause of Parkinson's, but exactly how that loss leads to tremors is unknown.

In the past, researchers have thought that a dramatic increase in frequency of neural signals was to blame; during Parkinson's episodes, the neurons in a key part of the brain fire almost twice as fast as normal. While this increase in frequency could be used to explain other Parkinson's symptoms, such as stiffness or slowness of movement, it cannot easily explain tremor, Terman explained.

"Our computer model shows that the pattern of the signals is important, too -- not just the frequency," Terman said.

The computer model is a software simulation of brain cells and the electrical signals that travel between them. The researchers were able to reproduce the normal, random firing of brain cells.

When they simulated the loss of dopamine, a different firing pattern emerged. The cells behaved as if they belonged to two separate groups. Cells in group A would fire all at once, while signals in group B were suppressed; then the cells in group B would fire at once, while signals in group A were suppressed.

Terman's collaborators on this project include Alice Yew, assistant professor of mathematics at Ohio State; Jonathan Rubin, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh; and Charles Wilson, professor of life sciences at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The three mathematicians modeled the basal ganglia, a mass of brain cells believed to be responsible for voluntary movement and situated just above the brain stem. Researchers believe that the loss of dopamine characteristic of Parkinson's is the result of certain cells in one part of the basal ganglia dying off.

To create the model, the mathematicians drew upon data from studies on actual brain cells that other researchers had done in the past. One of those researchers is study coauthor Wilson, and the other is Mark Bevan, assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.

Then the researchers compared the computer model to Wilson's experimental results with rat brain cells in the laboratory.

By comparing the model to real-life neurons, the researchers were able to come up with a possible scenario that would create the Parkinsonian firing pattern.

The scenario goes like this: a shortage of dopamine causes one part of the basal ganglia, called the striatum, to send a too-strong neural signal to another part, called the globus pallidus. This signal alters the interaction between the globus pallidus and yet another part of the basal ganglia -- the subthalamic nucleus.

It is in this last interaction that the on-again, off-again, rhythmic neural signals of Parkinson's emerge, the researchers believe.

Eventually, Terman and his colleagues hope to expand their computer model to include other brain regions that interact with the basal ganglia. But this first portion of the work could provide researchers with new directions for Parkinson's therapies.

Terman cited work currently underway at the Cleveland Clinic, where researchers are implanting electrodes in the subthalamic nucleus of Parkinson's patients as an experimental therapy.

"Perhaps our work could help guide those experiments," Terman said.

The National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke supported this work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Research Explains Possible Origin Of Parkinson's Tremors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020523075551.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2002, May 23). Research Explains Possible Origin Of Parkinson's Tremors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020523075551.htm
Ohio State University. "Research Explains Possible Origin Of Parkinson's Tremors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020523075551.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins