As reported in a forthcoming article in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/jocn.2010.21420, a new computational model, developed by Drs. Ahmed Moustafa and Mark Gluck, at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University, Newark, has shown how Parkinson’s disease affects attentional performance during learning.
The same model also shows that dopamine medications enhance attentional performance in Parkinson’s patients in agreement with past observations. Future lab experiments with Parkinson’s patients will be conducted by Moustafa and Mark Gluck to test further model predictions.
Parkinson's is a disease that mainly affects dopamine levels in a brain area known as the basal ganglia, which is important for motor control. Hence, damage to this area leads to movement disorders, including shaking and difficulty moving--key symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Over the past two decades, it became known to neurologists and experimental neuroscientists that Parkinson’s disease also affects non-motor functions, including memory, learning, and attention. Impairment in these processes affect the quality of life of the patients, thus, understanding the neural basis of motor and non-motor dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease is equally important.
Dopamine is also projected to other parts of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, an area important for higher-level thinking, decision making, and attention. Dopamine projected to the prefrontal cortex is also reduced in Parkinson’s disease, as reported in many experimental studies with humans and animal models of Parkinson’s disease.
According to Moustafa and Gluck, until recently, existing computational models of Parkinson’s disease ignored any role played by dopamine in the prefrontal cortex. Moustafa and Gluck have designed a new computational model that shows how dopamine in the prefrontal cortex is important for attentional performance, and how dysfunction of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex can explain many of the non-motor deficits seen in Parkinson’s patients.
“Computational models are increasingly being used in the neurosciences and neurology to understand how neurological disorders affect brain and behavior,” said Moustafa. “This relatively new field—known as computational neuroscience— is promising to aid in designing new pharmacological and surgical intervention tools to treat neurological and psychiatric diseases.”
This research was funded by the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and by a grant from the Bachman-Strauss Foundation's Dekker Foundation Fund.
For more information on Moustafa and Gluck’s research, and on the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University, Newark, visit http://cmbn.rutgers.edu/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.Contact: Helen Paxton
Helen Paxton | EurekAlert!
Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences
15.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy