Copying movements could help manage Parkinson's

June 1, 2018 by Mike Addelman, University of Manchester
Immunohistochemistry for alpha-synuclein showing positive staining (brown) of an intraneural Lewy-body in the Substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease. Credit: Wikipedia

New research by University of Manchester psychologists has revealed that imitation of movement can help people with Parkinson's.

Dr. Ellen Poliakoff and Dr. Judith Bek, whose paper appears in the print version of the Journal of Neuropsychology, are on the team of the pioneering Economic and Social Research Council funded study.

The study compared the reactions of 23 people with mild to moderate Parkinson's and 24 people without the condition.

A computer-based task showed that seeing another person's movement on screen influenced the participants' own movements, in a similar way for those with and without Parkinson's.

This response is thought to tap into a process that is involved when we inadvertently mimic other people during social interaction.

Participants pressed a button as quickly as possible after viewing a human finger that moved upward or downward. This meant that it either matched or mismatched the participant's own movement.

Because there was no difference between the two groups, the researchers argue that the results show that is still triggered in people with Parkinson's when they see someone else move.

This may help them to practice and improve their own movements.

Dr. Poliakoff said: "These findings are the first unambiguous demonstration of imitative priming in both people with Parkinson's and healthy older adults.

"And that has implications for therapeutic techniques to facilitate action. Because imitation is important socially, it may also help us understand how people with Parkinson's interact with other people."

Now the team, in collaboration with Professor Paul Holmes from Manchester Metropolitan University, have developed an app to allow patients to train actions at home.

The app, which is to be trialled shortly, uses videos to help people with Parkinson's improve everyday actions such as fastening buttons, turning pages, and cutting up food.

Dr. Bek said: "It's about watching and imaging movements to help with performing everyday actions.

"Our research has found that it should be possible to help people with Parkinson's by using imitation and hopefully, this new app will be able to tell us if it's feasible to put these ideas into practice."

Dr. Matthew Sullivan, a senior lecturer from Manchester Metropolitan University, has Parkinson's has been helping to develop the app. Matthew said: "This app has been co-designed with people with Parkinson's right from the outset to ensure it is very user-friendly and appropriate."

Explore further: Are people with Parkinson's disease depressed or demoralized?

Related Stories

Are people with Parkinson's disease depressed or demoralized?

April 4, 2018
People with Parkinson's disease who show signs of depression may actually have a condition called demoralization, according to a study published in the April 4, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

New wearable tech from Western may hold big benefits for people with Parkinson's

March 2, 2018
A new prototype for wearable tremor suppression gloves has a team of Western University researchers believing real change is on the way for the more than 6 million people in the world afflicted by Parkinson's disease.

Scientists observe tremors associated with Parkinson's disease in fruit flies

December 6, 2017
Scientists say they have a better understanding of the tremors commonly associated with Parkinson's disease after observing the movements in fruit flies.

Eye movement research could hold the key to early Parkinson's diagnosis

April 12, 2017
The way people with Parkinson's use their eyes to complete simple tasks in both the real world and working at computers is being investigated by neuroscientists – and the findings could help early diagnosis and improve ...

People with depression may be more likely to develop Parkinson's disease

May 20, 2015
People with depression may be more likely to develop Parkinson's disease, according to a large study published in the May 20, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Parkinson's can lead to anxiety and other non-motor symptoms, even early on

January 14, 2013
While movement problems are the main symptom of Parkinson's disease, a new study shows that even early in the course of disease people frequently experience many non-motor symptoms such as drooling, anxiety and constipation. ...

Recommended for you

New evidence sheds light on how Parkinson's disease may happen

June 14, 2018
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have identified unexpected new key players in the development of an early onset form of Parkinson's disease called Parkinsonism. These key players are ...

Scientists unravel molecular mechanisms of Parkinson's disease

June 12, 2018
Detailed brain cell analysis has helped researchers uncover new mechanisms thought to underlie Parkinson's disease.

First photoactive drug to fight Parkinson's disease

June 8, 2018
An international team has designed the first potentially therapeutic photoactive drug, MRS7145, to fight Parkinson's disease, according to the new article in Journal of Controlled Release.

Researchers address sleep problems in Parkinson's disease

June 7, 2018
A team of researchers at VIB and KU Leuven has uncovered why people with a hereditary form of Parkinson's disease suffer from sleep disturbances. The molecular mechanisms uncovered in fruit flies and human stem cells also ...

Drugs that suppress immune system may protect against Parkinson's

May 31, 2018
People who take drugs that suppress the immune system are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Early synaptic dysfunction found in Parkinson's Disease

May 24, 2018
Northwestern Medicine scientists identified a cellular mechanism that leads to neurodegeneration in patients with Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anonym618772
not rated yet Jun 02, 2018
The original diagnosis was confirmed three months later by a second neurologist. He was on one tablet of pramipexole (Sifrol), 0.25 mg three times a day. Four months ago his neurologist added Biperiden, 2 mg. he takes half a tablet of Biperiden three times a day. He still didn't feel any better, Since the original diagnosis, his stiffness has slowly increased. He lost touch with reality suspecting it was the medication I took him off the Siferol (with the doctor's knowledge) and started him on PD natural herbal formula we ordered from NATURAL HERBAL GARDENS, I spoke to few people who used the treatment here in Canada and they all gave a positive response, his symptoms totally declined over a 7 weeks use of the Natural Herbal Gardens Parkinson's disease natural herbal formula. He is now almost 85 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed! (Visit their website www .naturalherbalgardens. com) I am thankful to nature, herbs are truly gift from God. Share with friends!!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.