The Neurobiology of Parkinson's Disease Essay

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The Neurobiology of Parkinson's Disease In neuroscience it is assumed that the central nervous system governs and defines all aspects of behavior (Grobstein, 1998). Therefore, the brain, the hub of the central nervous system, is responsible for integrating all sensory and motor patterning. To understand the mechanisms of neurobiology it is often useful to observe the nervous system at the level of the neuron. Integration and communication between neurons is facilitated by neurotransmitters, chemicals which act as intermediaries at the synaptic gap (Delcomyn, 1998). Many behavioral disorders have a neurochemical basis, oftentimes associated with abnormal neurotransmitter activity. These abnormalities are thought to stem from…show more content…
The National Parkinson's Foundation estimates that each PD patient pays $2500 a year on medicines alone. When accounting for Social Security and nursing home payments, Parkinson's Disease costs over $5.6 billion annually to the nation (PD Web, 1998). Despite the high occurrence of Parkinson's, it is still not always recognized as a significant medical problem. The symptoms are often ignored in the elderly because they are thought to be part of the natural process of aging (PD Web, 1998). Symptoms include tremors in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; slowness of movement, or bradykinesia, and difficulties in balance and coordination. As the chronic disease progresses, PD patients may have difficulty with simple tasks, such as walking and talking (PD Web, 1998). Much of the oversight of PD in medical research, and of other neurodegnerative diseases associated with elderly populations, like Alzheimers, could be a reflection of a dismissive attitude towards the aging process in the medical community and American culture. The primary symptoms of Parkinson's Disease stem from the deterioration of the part of the brain that controls motor functioning (NHGRI, 1998). This region is the substantia nigra which is found deep within the brain stem and contains neuronomelanin, pigment cells, which synapse to cells of the striatum. The striatum is responsible for balance, control of movements, and
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