Using visual dysfunction to understand dementia in Parkinson’s disease


  • Dr Rimona Weil

    Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

Project summary

Although Parkinson’s is a disease affecting movement, it can also cause problems with thinking and memory. Parkinson’s affects people in different ways, making it difficult to predict what will happen to each patient. If there was a reliable way of telling who will develop dementia, we could work out who would benefit most from early treatments to prevent it. I have developed a sensitive visual test for people with Parkinson’s that can detect whether the ‘thinking’ parts of the brain are involved even before the memory is affected. This test may predict who will get dementia. I have also developed a website where people can sign up to take part in the study.

The aim of this project is to use visual tests combined with brain scanning techniques to understand how dementia develops in Parkinson’s. I want to find out whether this visual test can pick out who will develop dementia before they show any memory problems, what are the changes in structure and wiring in the brains of patients that do not perform as well in the vision test and whether vision tests explain why some patients have distressing hallucinations.