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Parkinson's tie to impulsiveness studied


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I just couldn't resist posting this article:

Parkinson's tie to impulsiveness studied

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

1 hour, 38 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Your brain is supposed to fire a "hold your horses" signal when faced with a tough choice. But a brain implant that stops the tremors of Parkinson's disease may block that signal — a new explanation for why some Parkinson's patients become hugely impulsive.

Scientists have long known that anti-Parkinson medications occasionally spark compulsions like pathological gambling.

Research published Thursday found another treatment, a pacemaker-like brain implant, can trigger a completely different kind of impulsiveness.

How different? The drugs leave a subset of patients unlikely to learn from bad experiences, like a losing poker hand.

The brain implant doesn't hinder learning. In contrast, those patients can make hasty decisions as the brain loses its automatic tendency to hesitate when faced with conflict, University of Arizona researchers reported online in the journal Science.

In fact, the first patient they studied displayed an alarming example when he saw something across the room he wanted and tried to dash over without his wheelchair. Neuroscientist Michael Frank had to catch the man before he fell.

"Deep brain stimulation," or DBS, involves placing electrodes into a small region called the subthalamic nucleus, an area important for controlling movement. But it also is where scientists believe the brain yells: "Stop, weigh your options!"

Frank's theory: When electrodes fire to disrupt excessive movement, they also may block that signal.

"It makes a lot of sense," said Dr. Valerie Voon, a psychiatrist with the National Institutes of Health's neurology center, after reviewing the research.

The study doesn't offer easy solutions. But it could affect how neurologists counsel Parkinson's patients after DBS surgery.

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I just couldn't resist posting this article:

Parkinson's tie to impulsiveness studied

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

1 hour, 38 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Your brain is supposed to fire a "hold your horses" signal when faced with a tough choice. But a brain implant that stops the tremors of Parkinson's disease may block that signal — a new explanation for why some Parkinson's patients become hugely impulsive.

Scientists have long known that anti-Parkinson medications occasionally spark compulsions like pathological gambling.

Research published Thursday found another treatment, a pacemaker-like brain implant, can trigger a completely different kind of impulsiveness.

How different? The drugs leave a subset of patients unlikely to learn from bad experiences, like a losing poker hand.

The brain implant doesn't hinder learning. In contrast, those patients can make hasty decisions as the brain loses its automatic tendency to hesitate when faced with conflict, University of Arizona researchers reported online in the journal Science.

In fact, the first patient they studied displayed an alarming example when he saw something across the room he wanted and tried to dash over without his wheelchair. Neuroscientist Michael Frank had to catch the man before he fell.

"Deep brain stimulation," or DBS, involves placing electrodes into a small region called the subthalamic nucleus, an area important for controlling movement. But it also is where scientists believe the brain yells: "Stop, weigh your options!"

Frank's theory: When electrodes fire to disrupt excessive movement, they also may block that signal.

"It makes a lot of sense," said Dr. Valerie Voon, a psychiatrist with the National Institutes of Health's neurology center, after reviewing the research.

The study doesn't offer easy solutions. But it could affect how neurologists counsel Parkinson's patients after DBS surgery.

Click on the link for the full article

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