The U-M team of clinician-researchers is led by Roger Albin, Anne B. Young Collegiate Professor of Neurology, co-director of the Movement Disorders Division, and director of the U-M Parkinson’s Foundation Research Center of Excellence.

The U-M Udall Center research team is an interactive and productive group of investigators from disciplines that include neurology, radiology, psychology and biostatistics.

Participants led by U-M investigators Nicolaas Bohnen, professor of radiology and neurology, and Kirk Frey, David E. Kuhl Collegiate Professor of Radiology and Neurology, use novel brain-imaging methods to show that the loss of various types of brain cells is strongly associated with falls, other gait problems and cognitive deficits, loss of the ability to pay close attention to one’s movements and environment, and impairment of the perception of other forms of information important for movement.

In closely related animal model work, the specific circuits underlying these problems are being investigated by investigator Martin Sarter, Charles M. Butter Collegiate Professor of Psychology, casting light on how attentional information is integrated with movement mechanisms to produce gait coordination.

Albin uses brain-imaging methods to probe how loss of acetylcholine cells causes cognitive deficits and may identify a group of Parkinson’s subjects at risk for faster progression. In parallel work, Omar Ahmed, assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience and biomedical engineering, is studying cellular mechanisms of acetylcholine signaling in spatial navigation.

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