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Research Article Summary

Udall Center personnel meet weekly to discuss scientific literature with relevant research pertaining to Parkinson's disease.  A summary, along with a link to the full article, are provided here:

Basal Ganglia Journal Club 9/20/2021

Jun Ma, Johann du Hoffmann, Morgan Kindel, B Sofia Beas, Yogita Chudasama, Mario A Penzo. 2021. Divergent projections of the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus mediate the selection of passive and active defensive behaviors. Nat Neurosci. 24(10):1429-1440. DOI: 10.1038/s41593-021-00912-7; PMID: 34413514

This mouse study compares the roles of nerve connections between a specific area of the thalamus (the “paraventricular thalamus”) and two brain areas that are important for the processing of reward signals in the brain, the “central nucleus of the amygdala” and the “nucleus accumbens”.  These findings highlight that these connections are involved in different passive and active defensive behaviors.  The connection to the central amygdala appears to mediate behavioral arrests, while the connection to the nucleus accumbens signals active avoidance behaviors.

To read the full article, click here.


Basal Ganglia Journal Club 10/11/2021 (Enrico Opri, Emory University):

Oswal et al. (2021) Neural signatures of hyperdirect pathway activity in Parkinson's disease. Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 31;12(1):5185. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25366-0. PMID: 34465771; PMCID: PMC8408177.

Patients affected by Parkinson’s disease (PD) show pathological oscillatory nerve cell activity in many movement-related brain areas. It has been suggested that 13-21 Hz oscillations are particularly disruptive to movement.  However, the specific abnormalities that lead to these abnormal activity patterns are not understood.  The authors used data from magnetoencephalography (a form of magnetic brain wave testing) and direct brain recordings from PD patients and showed that activity in a brain pathway that links the outer part of the brain (the cerebral cortex) to one of the nuclei most strongly affected by PD, the subthalamic nucleus may be important. More specifically, the study shows that activity in this pathway in PD shows a pathologic linkage between different oscillation frequency ranges; oscillations at 21-30 Hz appear to drive the generation of 13-21 Hz oscillatory activity. These findings suggest that modulation of this pathway could be therapeutically useful to reduce the pathological activity in the 13-21 Hz range.

To read the full article, click here.


Basal Ganglia Journal Club 9/13/2021 (Thomas Wichmann, Emory University):

Chiken S, Takada M, Nambu A. Altered Dynamic Information Flow through the Cortico-Basal Ganglia Pathways Mediates Parkinson's Disease Symptoms. Cereb Cortex. 2021. Epub 2021/07/17. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhab164. PubMed PMID: 34268560

This research shows how different brain circuits may be involved in parkinsonism.  The authors examine activity changes deep inside of the brain, evoked by electric stimulation of small sections of the outer mantle of the brain (the cerebral cortex).  Using this technique, they find that transmission along the so-called ‘direct’ pathway of the basal ganglia, is weakened in the parkinsonian state.  Interestingly, existing anti-parkinsonian therapies tend to strengthen the role of this pathway in movement (among other effects).  The results of this paper suggest that selective strengthening of direct pathway activity could be developed into a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

To read the full article, click here.