Kumar Narayanan, M.D., Ph.D.

The ability to consciously guide movements over a timeframe of a few seconds is a simple but universal thinking skill in mammals. It also is an ability that is consistently impaired in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and for University of Iowa neurologist Nandakumar Narayanan, MD, PhD, that makes “timing” an ideal tool to study cognitive problems in PD. In a new study, published online in the journal Current Biology, the researchers show for the first time that brain stimulation of specific neurons at a specific frequency can improve timing in mice that are missing dopamine. The findings imply that, at least in theory, it might be possible to use brain stimulation to improve cognitive problems caused by PD, and possibly other cognitive disorders, too.