Researchers from Stanford used a technique called "optogenetics" to study neural circuits in the brain. They found that in rodents with dopamine deficiencies, stimulating the neural wires called axons that converge in the subthalmic nucleas region of the brain had a greater effect on improving Parkinson's symptoms than stimulating the cells in that region of the brain itself.
Because the axons lie closer to the surface of the brain, it's possible the discovery will lead to new, less invasive techniques, researchers said.
"Because these axons are coming from areas closer to the brain's surface, new treatments could perhaps be less invasive than deep brain stimulation," said Dr. Karl Deisseroth, senior study author and an associate professor of bioengineering, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University.
The National Parkinson Foundation has more about symptoms and treatments for the disease.
SOURCES: Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., professor, neuroscience, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Michael Okun, M.D., national medical director, National Parkinson Foundation; March 19, 2009, Science Express, online