Why Parkinson’s patients see ghosts: Scientists find abnormalities in the pre-temporal area of the brain of sufferers that can cause hallucinations
- Half of Parkinson’s sufferers experience “present hallucinations,” the researchers said
- A study using brain imaging and robotics highlighted brain abnormalities
- Hallucinations often appear before other symptoms appear
Scientists have discovered a frontal-temporal separation that may explain why people with Parkinson’s believe they can see ghosts.
About half of people suffering from the disease experience “present hallucinations”, which makes them feel a shadowy presence nearby.
The spontaneous nature of the event made the phenomenon difficult to study.
Scientists have discovered a frontal-temporal divide that may explain why people with Parkinson’s believe they can see ghosts
PARKINSON’S DISEASE EXPLAINED
Parkinson’s disease affects one in every 500 people, including about 145,000 individuals in the UK.
It causes muscle stiffness, slow movement, tremors, sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.
It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys the cells in the brain that control movement.
Sufferers are known to have reduced dopamine supply because their nerve cells that do so have died.
There is currently no cure or way to stop the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific studies are working to change that.
A new study using images of the brain and robotics has highlighted abnormalities in the brain that could explain it.
Professor Olaf Blank of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology told Reuters: “The system is actually quite simple.
“One robot is in front of the object and will measure the movement, and the second robot will give feedback to the individual that we are testing, Parkinson’s patients or a healthy subject, and then when we cause a mismatch, so if the front robot does something other than the rear robot , this is the condition when a “hallucination of presence” occurs. ‘
Minor hallucinations often occur before other Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremors and muscle rigidity.
People who have more severe hallucinations are more likely to have a greater cognitive decline as the disease progresses.
Information on hallucinations is scarce because patients are often reluctant to report them, scientists say.
Joseph Ray, who experiences the visions, said: “They feel like angels protecting me. They don’t hurt me. They follow me around. It’s reassuring in some ways because I’m not alone.
The study involved 56 Parkinson’s sufferers in Switzerland and Spain.
While the disease is traditionally defined as a motor disorder, some patients also suffer from mental symptoms such as psychosis, depression, cognitive decline and even dementia.
Researchers say growing evidence suggests that hallucinations may be precursors to these more severe mental symptoms, but they often remain under diagnosis.