Using a novel biomarker for adaptive deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease – preclinical studies

Supervisors: Dr Joel Villalobos, Dr Tomoko Hyakumura, A/Prof James Fallon

Parkinson’s disease affects one percent of the population over 60 years of age. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus within the basal ganglia is a well-established therapy for advanced Parkinson’s disease. Although DBS can improve patients’ motor symptoms, it is currently sub-optimal as stimulation levels are typically fixed and do not respond to patients’ needs, which fluctuate from day-to-day. Recently, our clinical research team discovered a unique neural response we termed “evoked resonant neural activity (ERNA)” in the subthalamic nucleus of Parkinson’s patients undergoing DBS surgery. ERNA has the potential to be used as a disease-state indicator for developing adaptive DBS, i.e., stimulation level automatically adjusts to patients’ symptoms. This study will utilize preclinical experiments to establish factors influencing ERNA and the generator of ERNA.

This project would suit a student with a background in science (e.g., biomedicine) or engineering (biomedical, electrical).

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