Medscape reports on new research results from the International Conference on Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders, held in Vancouver, BC, Canada June 4 – 8 2017.
When viewing pictures of cats and dogs with no distortion, medium distortion, and strong distortion, Parkinson’s Patients did worse than controls in distinguishing between cats and dogs in the medium distortion condition, pointing to possible improved tests and treatments to prevent dementia in Parkinson’s.
Autopsy studies of patients with PD confirm that this area of the brain — the infero-temporal and parieto-occipital cortex — is affected, she noted. “So we already know that there is some clue that the visual processing part of the brain is important.”
Current visuo-perceptual tests measure only one or two aspects of visual processing and tend to be “too easy,” said Dr Weil. “Everyone does very well on them and by the time they do badly, their disease may have progressed quite a bit. We need trickier tests.”
As well, current tests measure visual processing only in small numbers of patients. Online testing enables access to large numbers of patients.
“People think of PD as a disorder of movement but it’s much more complex and affects much more than just movement.”
A key question then, she said, is how does PD affect the brain? “Whatever it is that causes PD doesn’t just involve the deep part of the brain, but also involves the thinking and memory parts, and the fact that people have trouble with these tests suggests that those bits are involved.”