BOB HIRSHON (host):
Kickstarting stubborn muscles. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
When you want to lift your arm or take a step, you just do it — unless you have a condition like Parkinson’s disease that can make even simple movements difficult. Doctors treat Parkinson’s by stimulating the part of the brain responsible for movement using the brain chemical dopamine or an electrical implant. But in the journal Nature, Columbia neuroscientist Rui Costa and his colleagues report that the brain doesn’t need this constant stimulation to move — just a well-timed nudge.
RUI COSTA (Zuckerman Institute, Columbia University):
Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could determine the moment in which the brain wants to move and just apply the stimulation then?
They were able to do that in lab mice, activating movement with just a quick jolt to the motor neurons. The work could eventually lead to new treatments with fewer side effects for Parkinson’s patients. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.
Story by Bob Hirshon