Basal ganglia disorders and action control and reward learning.
In order to understand the role of the basal ganglia in action control and reward based learning we study populations with (clinically validated) structural changes in the basal ganglia (like patients with Parkinson's disease, impulse control disorder, Tourette and Huntington's disease) in comparison to aged matched healthy controls.
More specifically we use experimental paradigms like the Simon, Flanker and Stop task to gain insight into the activation and inhibition of impulsive actions. Probabilistic reward based learning tasks enable us to define how changes in reward processing and appreciation are related to learning and risk taking.
Scott Wylie, Daniel Claassen, Nelleke van Wouwe, Kristen Kanoff, Wery van den Wildenberg
Medication and treatment effects in Parkinson's disease on action control and reward learning.
Dopamine agonists and LevoDopa are commonly used dopaminergic medications to treat Parkinson's disease. However, they act differently on the dopamine system in the brain and may therefore each affect cognition in a unique way. We study patients with Parkinson's disease on and off their medication to investigate the unique contributions of LevoDopa and dopamine agonists on action control, risk-taking and reward learning.
Behaviorial paradigms enable us to define which and how cognitive functions are modulated by medication, whereas EEG (which measures the electrical activity of the brain) gives more insight into when and where these changes take place in the brain. Therefore we also study patients with Parkinson's disease on and off their medication while we measure their brain activity with EEG during cognitive task performance.
Deep brain stimulation
Recent scientific discoveries have lead to the development of deep brain stimulation of the sub thalamic nucleus as a treatment of Parkinson's disease. Although this clearly alleviates the movement problems, it is less clear how it affects cognition.
We investigate Parkinson's patients on and off their deep brain stimulation while they perform learning and action control tasks to look into the effect of subthalamic deep brain stimulation on cognition.
In collaboration with the Neurosurgery Department we have the unique opportunity to directly measure single cell activation in relation to action control. We record single cell activity and cognitive performance in patients undergoing the electrode implantation that will be used for their deep brain stimulation.
Scott Wylie, Daniel Claassen, Joseph Neimat, Nelleke van Wouwe, Kristen Kanoff