The Sweet Lab is interested in the cognitive and emotional changes that occur in Parkinson’s
disease along with the more well-known motor symptoms such as essential tremor and
shuffling gait. Up to 80% of people living with Parkinson’s disease experience depression,
dementia, or cognitive decline. This makes the disease much more difficult for the
patients and families to cope with the disease. Current therapies used to address
the motor symptoms of PD do not adequately treat non-motor symptoms so understanding
the processes in the brain that lead to these symptoms is critical to finding ways
to treat them.
We use the mouse as a model system to investigate the role that genetic and environmental
factors have on learning and emotion in Parkinson’s disease. Students working in the
lab will have the opportunity to study how Parkinson's disease alters the brain to
affect behavior in mice, the molecular pathways responsible for learning and memory,
and neuronal activity.