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Electrical stimulation of the vestibular system as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.

Details

Close date
Saturday, 30 November 2019
Academic background
Health Sciences
Host campus
Dunedin
Qualifications
PhD, Master’s
Department
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Supervisors
Professor Paul F. Smith, Research Associate Professor Yiwen Zheng

Overview

For decades it has been speculated that Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is associated with dysfunction of the vestibular system, especially given that postural instability is one of the major symptoms of the disorder. Nonetheless, clear evidence of such a connection has been slow to emerge. However, substantial evidence of vestibulo-spinal reflex deficits now exists, in the form of abnormal vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs). Some studies suggest that the integration of visual and vestibular information in the limbic system and neocortex may be abnormal in PD.  In the last few years, a number of studies have been published which demonstrate that the neuropathology associated with PD, such as Lewy bodies, is present in areas of the central vestibular system such as the brainstem vestibular nucleus. As a result of this evidence, stochastic galvanic vestibular stimulation (sGVS), a form of electrical stimulation of the peripheral vestibular system, is being investigated as a potential treatment for PD, and a number of studies support this idea. The aim of this project is to investigate the efficacy and mechanisms of sGVS in an animal model of PD, using a combination of behavioural, electrophysiological and neurochemical methods. This knowledge will enable us to contribute to the development of novel treatments for PD in humans.

Contact

Professor Paul Smith
Tel   +64 3 479 5747
Email   paul.smith@otago.ac.nz