Recognize signs of Parkinson’s in your scalp

Pathological changes associated with the disability of Parkinson’s patients are already recognized in signals from the scalp without the skull having to be opened. A research team has recently published these new findings in the journal Brain.

Diseased couplings can also be detected in EEG measurements that are only five minutes long

Pathological changes associated with the disability of Parkinson’s patients are already recognized in signals from the scalp without the skull having to be opened. Scientists from the University Medical Center Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences have recently published these new findings in the journal Brain.

How does the characteristic slowing down of movements come about in patients with Parkinson’s? Electrical oscillations of nerve cells in the depths of the brain and the cerebral cortex are pathologically coupled with one another. Researchers know this from recordings made during an operation on the brains of Parkinson’s patients when they were given a brain pacemaker.

But can this coupling also be recognized if the electrical nerve activity is only derived from the patient’s scalp by an EEG? Doctoral student Ruxue Gong and a team of scientists led by Prof. Dr. Joseph Claßen, Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurology at Leipzig University Hospital and Prof. Dr. Thomas Knösche, MPI for Cognitive and Neurosciences.

In the only five-minute EEG measurements, the researchers actually found such couplings in Parkinson’s patients, which, compared to healthy test subjects, are stronger in brain regions that serve to control movement. Breaking the link between vibrations at different locations could be particularly important for treating Parkinson’s symptoms. “We hope that in future the coupled electrical oscillations in Parkinson’s patients can be corrected with external electrical or magnetic stimulation without the need for an operation,” says Claßen. “With our mathematical model calculations, we would like to recognize which characteristics such innovative therapies must have in order to be successful. The new findings could have provided an important component for this,” explains Knösche.

In addition, pathological couplings were found in a single area of ​​the frontal cortex that is only marginally involved in motor control. “Perhaps the cognitive disorders that exist in some Parkinson’s patients have a common cause with the motor disorders,” says Claßen. This thesis will be further investigated in future studies.

Those:
Ruxue Gong, Mirko Wegscheider, Christoph Mühlberg, Richard Gast, Christopher Fricke, Jost-Julian Rumpf, Vadim V Nikulin, Thomas R Knösche, Joseph Classen, Spatiotemporal features of β-γ phase-amplitude coupling in Parkinson’s disease derived from scalp EEG, Brain ,, awaa400, https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa400

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