Physical experience of emotion: an early marker of Parkinson's Disease?

$1,869
Raised
124%
Funded on 6/07/13
Successfully Funded
  • $1,869
    pledged
  • 124%
    funded
  • Funded
    on 6/07/13

About This Project

At least a decade before diagnosis with Parkinson's, the disease is transforming the way the mind and the body interact. By measuring the physical response to emotion, we can better understand Parkinson's in hopes of mapping its root cause, developing early diagnostic criteria, and improving therapies for this neurodegenerative disease. Your generosity will help move this research forward.

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What is the context of this research?

How does the body physically react to emotion differently in Parkinson's Disease (PD), and can we use that information to develop an early diagnosis criteria for the disease? The mind and the body are tethered in a very real and quantifiable manner. As humans, we physically respond to emotion in predictable ways. Our palms sweat. Our heart races. Our blood pressure spikes. But it appears that this is not quite the case in Parkinson's Disease. PD can alter both the subjective experience of emotion, as well as the subsequent physical response. We are identifying and quantifying these differences by studying people with and without PD. Our specific goal is to answer the following questions:
1. When exposed to emotional stimuli, do people with Parkinson's react differently with regards to heart rate? blood pressure? and skin sweat response?
2. Do people with Parkinson's subjectively rate emotional stimuli as more/less intense? more/less pleasurable?

What is the significance of this project?

We know precious little about the early symptoms, the cause, and the anatomical locations of Parkinson's Disease outside the brain. This must change. This degenerative disease is diagnosed by its characteristics movement symptoms: tremor, rigidity, and shuffling gait. Nevertheless, the disease likely begins at least a decade prior to diagnosis, with the insidious development of early non-movement symptoms, including cognitive, emotional, and physical dysfunction. Research suggests that the physical response to emotion is one of these early non-movement symptoms. Why study these early symptoms?

1. The development of early therapies requires an early diagnostic criteria.

2. People diagnosed with PD and their caretakers deserve to know the disease's physical and emotional symptoms, and how to treat them.

3. If we understand the early symptoms of PD, we can in turn map the progression of the disease in the body, in hopes of deciphering its causes and novel therapies.

What are the goals of the project?

In order to complete my already ongoing research, I need to finance two major research expenditures: research subject compensation and disposable laboratory materials.

My research is made possible by the willingness of people with and without Parkinson's Disease to participate. All subjects are compensated with $50 and complementary parking ($7) for the half day spent with me in lab. Subjects are connected to a number of devices that measure heart rate, blood pressure, and skin sweat in real time. I then present them with a series of emotionally charged images, and record their bodies' responses, as well as their subjective ratings of each image. These laboratory devices require disposable elements, such as electrodes, conductive gel, anti-septic wipes, and other items that need to be replenished regularly. Your generosity will help advance our understanding of both Parkinson's Disease and the neurological circuitry that connects the mind and the body.

Budget

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Funds raised by this campaign will be used exclusively and directly for research purposes. Specifically, this will finance research subject compensation and essential research materials.

If you are interested in making your contribution tax deductible, please contact me at agudelo.christian@medstudent.pitt.edu

Meet the Team

Christian Agudelo
Christian Agudelo
Medical Student Research Fellow

Affiliates

Duke University - Bachelor of Science in Engineering (2002 - 2006),
Florida International University - Research Associate (2006 - 2008),
University of Miami, School of Medicine - Research Associate (2008 - 2009),
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine - MD Candidate and Medical Student Research Fellow (2009 - Present).
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Team Bio

I am a fourth year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh and currently on a research fellowship courtesy of the National Institute of Mental Health. My fellowship and my mentor, Samay Jain M.D., have facilitated my research into the early symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, and given me the opportunity to engage the Parkinson's support community outside of just research. I currently am privileged to lead a Parkinson's support group, where I have learned much about the intimate reality of living with the disease. I have worn many hats in order to get here. After receiving my degree in Biomedical Engineering from Duke, I began my first research position at Florida International University. Under Dr. Philip Stoddard, I looked a the evolution of communication using electric fish. Upon completion with the project, I moved on to researching the physiology of taste at the University of Miami under Dr, Nirpua Chaudari. Concurrently, I volunteered my time with Dr. Dimitri Ivanov, studying the brain's response in the moments after a stroke. During my first two years of medical school, I worked with Dr. Martin Oudega looking at spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish. My current project in the UPMC Department of Neurology is more intimately bound to my impending career as a neurologist. Wanting to perform research more directly connected to people, I have designed a research study looking at the body's physical response to emotion in Parkinson's Disease, a disease whose therapeutic advances have been anemic. This project is my earnest effort to move us forward to a new era of understanding and therapy for Parkinson's Disease.

Christian Agudelo

I am a fourth year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh and currently on a research fellowship courtesy of the National Institute of Mental Health. My fellowship and my mentor, Samay Jain M.D., have facilitated my research into the early symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, and given me the opportunity to engage the Parkinson's support community outside of just research. I currently am privileged to lead a Parkinson's support group, where I have learned much about the intimate reality of living with the disease. I have worn many hats in order to get here. After receiving my degree in Biomedical Engineering from Duke, I began my first research position at Florida International University. Under Dr. Philip Stoddard, I looked a the evolution of communication using electric fish. Upon completion with the project, I moved on to researching the physiology of taste at the University of Miami under Dr, Nirpua Chaudari. Concurrently, I volunteered my time with Dr. Dimitri Ivanov, studying the brain's response in the moments after a stroke. During my first two years of medical school, I worked with Dr. Martin Oudega looking at spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish. My current project in the UPMC Department of Neurology is more intimately bound to my impending career as a neurologist. Wanting to perform research more directly connected to people, I have designed a research study looking at the body's physical response to emotion in Parkinson's Disease, a disease whose therapeutic advances have been anemic. This project is my earnest effort to move us forward to a new era of understanding and therapy for Parkinson's Disease.

Additional Information

If you are in the Pittsburgh area, 40 years of age or older, with or without Parkinson's Disease, and interested in participating in this research study, please feel free to email me. Also, I am happy to receive any questions, suggestions, or advice by email. Thank you so very much! (agudelo.christian@medstudent.pitt.edu)

Project Backers

  • 42Backers
  • 124%Funded
  • $1,869Total Donations
  • $44.50Average Donation
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