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Insights into Parkinson’s disease from computational models of the basal ganglia
  1. Mark D Humphries1,2,
  2. Jose Angel Obeso3,
  3. Jakob Kisbye Dreyer4,5
  1. 1Faculty of Biology, Medicine, and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3HM-CINAC, Hospital Puerta del Sur, Mostoles, CEU-San Pablo University, Madrid, Spain
  4. 4Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5Department of Bioinformatics, H Lundbeck A/S, Valby, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mark D Humphries, Faculty of Biology, Medicine, and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK; mark.humphries{at}


Movement disorders arise from the complex interplay of multiple changes to neural circuits. Successful treatments for these disorders could interact with these complex changes in myriad ways, and as a consequence their mechanisms of action and their amelioration of symptoms are incompletely understood. Using Parkinson’s disease as a case study, we review here how computational models are a crucial tool for taming this complexity, across causative mechanisms, consequent neural dynamics and treatments. For mechanisms, we review models that capture the effects of losing dopamine on basal ganglia function; for dynamics, we discuss models that have transformed our understanding of how beta-band (15–30 Hz) oscillations arise in the parkinsonian basal ganglia. For treatments, we touch on the breadth of computational modelling work trying to understand the therapeutic actions of deep brain stimulation. Collectively, models from across all levels of description are providing a compelling account of the causes, symptoms and treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

  • parkinson’s disease

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  • Contributors MDH wrote the outline. MDH and JKD wrote the first draft. All authors contributed to the final draft.

  • Funding MDH is funded by a Medical Research Council (MRC) Senior non-Clinical Fellowship(MR/J008648/1). JKD is funded by the Lundbeck foundation (Grant #2013-12906).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.