Oct 25, 2006
The common perception of Parkinson’s disease is of a disorder that leads to problems with movement, tremors, involuntary spasms, and a shuffling gait. However, functional MRI has now confirmed that the disease can also cause widespread abnormalities in the sense of touch and vision for sufferers. An international team from the US and China presented their findings at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Atlanta on October 17.
Research into Parkinson’s disease has previously focused mainly on the brain’s motor and premotor cortex, sidestepping the somatosensory and the visual cortex because the most prominent symptoms are associated with movement and not the senses. However, neurologist Krish Sathian of Emory University and colleagues discovered through tests of tactile ability, that PD patients also have sensory problems with touch. The researchers recently designed a study using fMRI to investigate this earlier finding and to ascertain whether or not changes in the brain underly these sensory abnormalities.