Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias
Recent work by Hawkins and Sergio (2016, 2014; J ALzhiemer Disease) lead to the development of the Reverse Visual Guided Reaching Task
According to her work: “Recent evidence suggests that visuomotor behaviors may be disrupted in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here we propose that using kinematic measures under conditions that place demands on visual-spatial and cognitive-motor processing may provide an effective behavioral means to detect subtle changes associated with AD risk. Results: Comparing participants at increased AD risk with both young and old healthy control groups revealed significant performance disruptions in at-risk individuals as task demands increased. Furthermore, we were able to discriminate between individuals at high and low AD risk with a classification accuracy of 86.4% (sensitivity: 81.8%, specificity: 90.9%). Conclusion:We suggest that the impairments observed in individuals at increased AD risk may reflect inherent brain alteration and/or early neuropathology disrupting the reciprocal communication between hippocampal, parietal, and frontal brain regions
required to successfully prepare and update complex reaching movements. Such impairment has the potential to affect activities of daily living, and may serve as a sensitive measure of functional ability in at-risk adults.
Kingston General Hospital Research institute
Dr. Ron Levy is working to develop improved treatment methods by understanding how the brain reacts to and functions with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Levy uses a NHP KINARM Exoskeleton Lab to examines how neurons within the brain interact in the presence of disease and also studies the use of deep brain stimulation to stabilize or even reverse symptoms.
In the report, Dr. Levy noted “we’re learning enough about the brain to have the ability to re-engineer how it works, and to tailor treatments to patients with a specific neurological injury to improve the course of their disease.”
Kennedy Kreiger Institute, Johns Hopkins University
Much of her work has focused on understanding how damage to the cerebellum causes movement incoordination or “ataxia.” Her research suggests that one important role of the cerebellum is to adjust the motor output controlling a given part of the body to compensate for mechanical effects caused by movement of other body parts (interaction torques). Her KINARM Exoskeleton Lab provided her with the techniques allow her to make very precise measurements of many different types of movements, and the ability to detect very small changes in movement performance over time or with treatment. Recent work by Weeks, 2016 has confirmed the importance of assessing for proprioceptive deficits in people with cerebellar damage.