Pilot Project Abstract - Wild, Heather Jaskirat, PhD

Wild, Heather Jaskirat, PhD, Postdoctoral Trainee, Dept. of Neurology, OHSU

“Effects of dopamine agonists on depression and cognitive function in Parkinson's disease”

Depression is extremely prevalent in Parkinson's Disease (PD), occurring in 20-50% of PD patients. Depression accelerates the progression of the disease by increasing the influence of motor symptoms on activities of daily living. Thus, treating depression in PD delays the onset of the need for treatment of PD symptoms, thereby saving significant costs of treatment and improving quality of life. The present project is a pilot study for a planned randomized clinical trial. The subsequent trial will test the efficacy of an 8-week meditation-based intervention for depression in PD where physiologic and behavioral markers of depression will be measured pre- and post-intervention. The present cross-sectional study will measure cognitive, behavioral, and self-report indices of depression in 15 unmedicated PD subjects, 15 PD subjects taking dopamine agonists, and matched controls. PD subjects will be recruited from the Parkinson's Center of Oregon at OHSU. This pilot will provide invaluable data for evaluating the feasibility of recruitment, the validity of cognitive outcome measures for depression, and the impact of first-line PD medications (dopamine agonists) on these measures. This will provide invaluable pilot data for both the planned randomized clinical trial and for the PI’s application for career development support from the NIH. The public health implications of this research are vast, given the potential for savings by delaying the onset of pharmaceutical treatment in PD. Utilizing the sophisticated methodology of cognitive neuroscience to explore mechanisms depression in PD is at the leading edge of translational research between cognitive neuroscience and behavioral interventions.