Scientific Research

Neuropsychiatry & Cognition

Many neurological movement disorders are accompanied by cognitive and psychiatric symptoms. For Parkinson’s disease, this has been known for a while. In recent years, interest in the non-motor symptoms of other movement disorders is growing. In the UMCG, we study the non-motor symptoms of several movement disorders.

For Parkinson’s disease, there is the DUPARC (Dutch Parkinson and Cognition Study) project on mild cognitive impairment, studying the relationship between cognitive deterioration and cholinergic and dopaminergic neuro-degeneration. The TOLEDO study, an international study into apomorphine treatment in Parkinson’s, is also studying non-motor symptoms.

Dystonia patients often have trouble with social skills and experience psychiatric problems such as compulsive disorders and symptoms of depression and anxiety. The question is: are these symptoms part of the disease or do they result from the burden of disease? In dystonia patients, we are investigating social cognition – an umbrella term for the skills that are needed to be able to adapt behaviour to social situations. We are researching whether psychiatric conditions are part of the disease in patients with various types of dystonia, by examining neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine through blood tests, PET (positron emission tomography) scans, etc. In early-onset dystonia, it is not clear yet which non-motor symptoms occur. An on going study is investigating cognitive functioning and psychiatric symptoms in children and young adults with dystonia.

In the field of functional movement disorders, we focus on mechanisms and diagnostics, using journals, clinical neurophysiological examinations and fMRI. In addition, on going therapeutic research is looking into the effect of educational and self-help websites.

NB: some of the pages we link to below are in Dutch.

Cognition and behavior in patients with early onset ataxia

SHIFT Functional Motor Disorders

Individual research in patients with functional tremor

EuroInf and NILS: long-term effects of advanced therapies on non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease

DUPARC: The Dutch Parkinson and Cognition study