Start! Adapt! Stop! Tracking the dynamics of action control in Parkinson’s disease.

01 October 2015 → 30 September 2018
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Animal experimental and comparative psychology
    • Applied psychology
    • Human experimental psychology
Project description

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disease in which so-called dopaminergic cells in specific parts of the brain are disabled. These cells are responsible for producing dopamine, a substance important for the production of movements. The resulting decrease in dopamine level leads to motoric problems and accordingly PD is characterized primarily by clearly observable symptoms such as tremor, difficulty initiating movement, and slowness of movement. In addition, many patients experience cognitive problems related to functions such as working memory and attention. Interestingly, these cognitive processes are also an essential component of the control of goal-directed actions, as they require selection and initiation, adaptation during actual execution, and active abortion. In this project, I will study these components of action control in PD and examine the effect of DA medication on each component. As action control dynamically unfolds over the time-course of movement production, I will study mouse and eye movement trajectories to map the overall time-course of movement production in order to tap into the various action control components. The current project goes beyond the state of the art, as up until now studies on action control in PD have employed simple button presses and have only sparsely considered the role of DA medication. Overall, the project will generate a comprehensive insight into action control in PD and its relevance for everyday movement problems.