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Dance promotes motor pathway perservation in Parkinson’s disease

Dance promotes motor pathway perservation in Parkinson’s disease

Name:Xianze Meng

School/Affiliation:York University

Co-Authors:Jianna Neufeld, Ashkan Karimi, Rachel Bar, Alexander Barnett, Joseph FX DeSouza

Virtual or In-person:In-person


Introduction. Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients commonly present impaired motor functions with symptom intensity positively associated with their disease progression. A longitudinal study by Bearss and DeSouza1 demonstrated that a long-term dance schedule could drastically prolong the motor decline. However, the exact neurological mechanism of how dancing preserves motor functions remains unclear.
One speculation could be white matter restoration. The corona radiata between the thalamus and the primary motor cortex could be crucial in facilitating motor functions2. Regular dancing may protect this pathway, which contributes to slowing down motor symptoms.
Methods. Participants with PD (n=10) and without PD (n=2) attended a longitudinal dance program. Their structural and functional imaging were obtained a minimum of 2 of 4 times throughout the program. Probabilistic tractography will compare the mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy of the corona radiata at different time points within the same subject to reflect dance’s neuroprotective effect. Moreover, the white matter between the primary visual cortex and lateral geniculate cortex, which should not be affected by dance, will serve as a control pathway to conduct within-subject analyses to reveal PD progression and basal-level neurodegeneration.
Proposed Results. We expect to observe lower mean diffusivity and higher fractional anisotropy in the motor pathway of corona radiata in more recent scans from PD subjects. Subjects without PD should display a similar, but more subtle, white matter improvement. Following this path, the motor pathway should show a less extensive aging pattern in the same subject than the visual pathway within PD patients.

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