Mouse study reveals brain pathways linked to Parkinson’s

Mouse study reveals brain pathways linked to Parkinson’s

Written by Timothy Huzar on April 8, 2021 — Fact checked by Rita Ponce, Ph.D.
Share on PinterestAnimal research offers further clues as to the brain pathways involved in Parkinson’s disease. Glowimages/Getty Images

  • Parkinson’s disease can affect a person’s motor function and their cognitive ability.
  • The role played by specific brain circuits is not yet well understood.
  • In a mouse study, scientists have shown that distinct neural pathways in the brain are associated with motor function issues and cognitive decline.
  • This may enable targeted interventions to alleviate specific symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

In a mouse study, scientists have shown that motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are associated with two specific neural pathways.

The study paper, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, opens the door to future research that may help develop interventions to treat the disease and its symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that typically occurs in people aged 60 and older.

Parkinson’s primarily affects a person’s motor functions, that is, their ability to move their body in a coordinated manner. However, it can also have an impact on a person’s cognition and behavior, leading to mental health issues and problems with memory and attention.

According to the NIA, Parkinson’s occurs when neurons, or brain cells, die or become damaged. Cognitive and motor functions are affected by specific brain cells, and it is damage to these cells in particular that results in the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Scientists do not know exactly why some people develop Parkinson’s. Research suggests it is likely to be due to a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, as well as the process of aging.

There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease. As a consequence, treatments usually focus on relieving the symptoms caused by the condition.

To manage these symptoms, it is important to understand the structure of the parts of the brain that may be involved in the key symptoms of the disease.

However, the relationship between different neural circuits and the effects of Parkinson’s disease is still being explored.

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