Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Newly Identified Process May Help Treat Parkinson's, Spinal Cord Injuries

Date:
April 19, 2008
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
A new discovery by University of Minnesota researchers may lead to a better understanding of how the spinal cord controls how people walk. These insights could help lead to treatments for central nervous system maladies such as Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries.

A discovery by University of Minnesota researchers may lead to a better understanding of how the spinal cord controls how people walk. These insights could help lead to treatments for central nervous system maladies such as Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries.

The study, headed by Joshua Puhl, Ph.D., and Karen Mesce, Ph.D., in the Departments of Entomology and Neuroscience, discovered it's possible that the human nervous system -- within each segment or region of spinal cord -- may have its own "unit burst generator" to control rhythmic movements such as walking.

By studying a simpler model of locomotion, in the medicinal leech, the research shows where these unit burst generators reside and that each nerve cord segment has a complete generator. When a neuron fires, it sets off a chain reaction that gives rise to rhythmic movement. Once those circuits are turned on, the body essentially goes on autopilot.

Mesce and her research group targeted the segmented leech for study because they have fewer and larger neurons -- making them easier to study.

The study was published today online in the Journal of Neuroscience.

"For most of us, we can chew gum and walk at the same time," Mesce said. "We do not have to remind ourselves to place the right leg out first, bring it back and do the same for the other leg. So how does the nervous system control rhythmic behaviors like walking or crawling""

Furthermore, and perhaps just as important, the study found that dopamine -- a common human hormone -- can turn each of these complete generator units on.

Since dopamine regulates movements and activates those unit burst generators, the next step will be figuring out how dopamine makes individual neurons more or less active.

"Because dopamine affects movement in many different animals, including humans, our studies may help to identify treatments for Parkinson's patients and those with spinal cord injury," Mesce said.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Newly Identified Process May Help Treat Parkinson's, Spinal Cord Injuries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416161222.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2008, April 19). Newly Identified Process May Help Treat Parkinson's, Spinal Cord Injuries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416161222.htm
University of Minnesota. "Newly Identified Process May Help Treat Parkinson's, Spinal Cord Injuries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416161222.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. 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