Research explains possible origin of Parkinson's tremors

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A mathematician at Ohio State University and his colleagues may have found the origin of tremors suffered by people with Parkinson's disease.

This work could potentially aid the development of new treatments for Parkinson's and other neurological conditions, said David Terman, professor of mathematics at Ohio State.

When researchers constructed a computer model of electrochemical activity in a Parkinson's-affected brain, they noticed unusual patterns in the way brain cells fired signals back and forth.

"In a normal brain, every cell is doing its own thing, and the signals create a random pattern," Terman said. "But in our model, we saw cells firing together in lockstep, creating a synchronized pattern that matched the timing of Parkinson's tremors."

The finding, reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, could help solve a long-standing mystery in the medical community. Loss of the neurotransmitter dopamine is generally believed to be the cause of Parkinson's, but exactly how that loss leads to tremors is unknown.

In the past, researchers have thought that a dramatic increase in frequency of neural signals was to blame; during Parkinson's episodes, the neurons in a key part of the brain fire almost twice as fast as normal. Whil

Contact: David Terman
Ohio State University

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