Researchers rebuke Parkinson's disease myth

16 September 2014

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have used advanced computer models to gain further insight about the causes of Parkinson's disease. 

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, focused on the presence of dopamine - an important neurotransmitter that affects physical and psychological functions such as motor control, learning and memory.

Levels of dopamine are regulated by cells, and when they are low, nerve cells that account for part of the brain's 'stop signal' become activated.

Jakob Kisbye Dreyer, postdoc at the university's Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, compared this to a safety lever on a motorised lawn mower, adding: "Parkinson's disease arises because, for some reason, the dopamine cells in the brain are lost, and it is known that the 'stop signal' is being over-activated somehow or other." 

He added that this has guided many researchers to determine that a lack of dopamine must be the cause of the distinctive symptoms that accompany the disease. However, advanced computer simulations can challenge this thought and present a different theory about what happens in the brain when the dopamine cells gradually die.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

 

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