A Big Step in Understanding Parkinson's
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts General Hospital paired up to research just what happens to the brain during Parkinson’s disease. What they found could lead to better treatment and further research.
Tremors, stiffness, and weakness are known as the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and there’s no denying how awful this experience can be. However, research never allowed us to see into the brain to understand why these things happened. We just knew that they did.
The researches took four MRI scans, all on the same machine but with different settings, to create one combined image. This image could dive deep into the brain to see what a regular scan could not.
They found that the substantia nigra, associated with movement, was targeted first, followed by the basal forebrain, associated with memory and attention. The disease actually kills brain cells, so these structures actually shrink as the Parkinson’s progresses.
Because the severity of the known symptoms vary so much from patient to patient, these scans can help doctors see what is happening to individuals living with this disease and treat them accordingly. Do they need more dopamine or maybe acetylcholine or is their dementia going to be the biggest problem? These questions can be answered.
Once we know more about treating the symptoms, we’re one step closer to treating the cause of the disease. For more information on this research, click here.
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