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'Cross fire' from the brain makes patients tremble
Date:7/11/2008

A typical symptom of Parkinson's disease is tremor in patients. A group of scientists, including Professor Peter Tass from Forschungszentrum Jlich have succeeded in demonstrating the mechanisms which cause the so-called tremor: neuron clusters in the depths of the brain drive the tremor. This discovery supports Tass' research activities aiming at developing a therapy for Parkinson's disease. A new deep brain pacemaker is to bring cells out of the diseased mode for good.

Today's article in the high-impact journal "Europhysics Letters" shows that the scientists from Forschungszentrum Jlich, a member of the Helmholtz Association, are on the right track. Their new deep brain pacemaker is to help Parkinson's patients on a large scale for the first time in 2009. Communication between the networks of neurons is disturbed in people suffering from Parkinson's disease. These "fire" their stimuli at the same time thus causing the typical tremor. The frequency measured here is 5 hertz (Hz), i.e. five oscillations per second. In Germany, there are officially around 150,000 Parkinson's patients, although it is estimated that up to 450,000 people are affected.

To date, scientists have assumed that the 5-Hz rhythm deep in the brain resulted from nerve signals, which are transmitted from muscles in the limbs back to the brain. The scientific term for this response is "proprioceptive feedback". The prevailing opinion of many scientists to date, however, is that the "cross fire" is not emitted by the brain. The reason for this assumption was that the measured frequency of the "proprioceptive feedback" and the frequency in a specific core region of the brain, in the thalamus and the basal ganglia, were not completely synchronous.

With a combination of several state-of-the-art analytical processes, the team has now succeeded in demonstrating that it is not only nerve signals from the muscles as feedback that drive the diseased 5-Hz rhythm in the brai
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Contact: Erhard Lachmann
e.lachmann@fz-juelich.de
49-246-161-1841
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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