Posts Tagged ‘Parkinson’s disease’

Vitamin D, mood and memory in persons with Parkinson’s disease

Vitamin D has become a hot topic in recent years. For many years, vitamin D has been known to play a role in bone health. More recent research suggests it may have a much broader role in multiple body systems. In regard to the brain, we know that there are receptors for vitamin D in most parts of the human brain. In persons without Parkinson’s disease, some research suggests vitamin D may be related to … Read More

From laboratory to farm: a scientist’s visit to the local herb farm

As a basic scientist, most of my neuroscience training and research has focused on the underlying biological mechanisms of disease. During the past year, I have started working with a natural compound in my research on Parkinson’s disease. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric spice, can act as an anti-oxidant and anti-aggregation agent, and may have a positive effect on the Lewy bodies found in Parkinson’s patients. At first, I was a bit skeptical about … Read More

‘Neuroprotection’: an elusive goal in fighting brain diseases

About 15 years ago, I wrote an article about treating Alzheimer’s disease that divided treatments into two categories: “symptomatic” and “neuroprotectant.” There were real options in the former category. But the “neuroprotectant” idea was more theoretical — more of a “coming attractions” approach — citing the studies that were underway to identify treatments that would actually save brain cells, protecting those neurons from further harm, and actually slowing or arresting the disease process. Sadly, despite … Read More

Scientists excited by new ‘see-through brain’

I am a neuroscientist who uses advanced microscopy techniques to understand the basic mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease. Throughout my career, I have always been interested in imaging and microscopy as a way to answer essential biological questions.  That’s why I (along with many other neuroscientists) am so excited about a new technique that creates fully intact, optically clear brains, allowing scientists to study how brain cells connect and communicate with each other in a completely … Read More

Smarter brain ‘glue’ — glia cells take the spotlight

Many neuroscientists will tell you that nerve cells in the brain (called neurons) are the most important part of the nervous system. They are, after all, the primary cells of the nervous system, responsible for conducting electrical currents to encode and process our senses, thoughts, memories and emotions. But there is a growing contingent of neuroscientists who study other brain cells called glia, named for the Greek word for glue. For much of the last … Read More

Brain imaging in Parkinson’s disease

Traditional brain imaging with CT and MRI scans do not show changes in the brain when someone has Parkinson’s disease and are generally not helpful in diagnosis.  A new kind of brain scan, called a DaT scan, does show changes in persons with Parkinson’s disease and may someday become an important tool in diagnosing Parkinson’s. The dopamine transporter, or DaT, scan uses a chemical that labels the dopamine transporter in the area of the brain … Read More

Deep Brain Stimulation: life-changing treatment for tremors, and maybe more

Functional neurosurgery is surgery intended to improve brain function.  These procedures have been applied to the treatment of pain, movement disorders, epilepsy, and behavioral disorders. In the past, the techniques were mostly targeted destruction of brain tissue or pathways. In very specific areas, destroying brain tissue could actually help — by decreasing a person’s tremors from movement disorders, for instance. Now with deep brain stimulation technology, these techniques are being replaced by reversible, and non-damaging … Read More

Tremors and dyskinesias in Parkinson’s disease

Tremor is the most common movement seen in persons with Parkinson’s disease. But other movements can also be seen. A resting tremor, which is found in about 80 percent of persons with Parkinson’s disease, is a rhythmic movement that most often starts in one hand. It generally is most prominent when the hand is resting and relaxed. Over time it often travels to the opposite hand or to the leg on the same side of … Read More

‘The mysteries of the mind’ — Brain Awareness Season lectures begin Feb. 25

Oregonians becoming “brain aware” — that is the goal of the OHSU Brain Institute’s Brain Awareness Season Lecture Series. Everyone wonders or worries about their brain. There is so much to learn and understand. And brain science — neuroscience — transforms society, from parenting to prisons, from autism discoveries to Alzheimer’s prevention and from creating new policies to improving current medical practices. The 2013 Brain Awareness Lecture series — which begins Feb. 25 and runs … Read More

Depression common, but often unrecognized, in Parkinson’s

Feeling blue? It may be more than just the Portland winter weather getting you down if you have Parkinson’s disease. About one-third of people with Parkinson’s disease suffer from clinical depression at any point in time and two-thirds will experience a depressive episode at some point during the course of the disease. The symptoms of depression include feeling worried, sad, tearful, tired, guilty, irritable, or unloved. People can lose interest in activities, have changes in … Read More

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