Parkinson's Disease: A Debate about its Nature & Cause

Paul Garris: Science Consultant, Author, Storyboards
Kevin Stewart: Animations, Artwork
David Leech Anderson: Storyboards

Darci J. Harland: Storyboards
Elisa L. Palmer: Author, Storyboards
Andrew T. Kenning: Author, Storyboards
Ji Zhend: Author, Storyboards

Picture of virtual rat MODULE DESCRIPTION: Our immersive Virtual Parkinson's Lab takes several hours of focused engagement to complete. In contrast, this is a single webpage with a dozen of the most important embedded Flash animations together with text that explains most of the scientific content that students will learn from doing the lab. Some teachers will choose to have their students carefully read this page and engage the animations, rather than completing the entire virtual lab. And for those who have completed the lab, this is a convenient summary of much of the key content.
     After an introduction to Parkinson's Disease, learn about a mystery surrounding the mechanisms that cause the disease. A patient can lose 80% of the dopamine neurons that control key motor functions before any symptoms are evident. But how is that possible? How does the body compensate for this loss and continue to function normally with only 20% of the original dopamine neurons. Learn about two competing theories that seek to explain how the body "compensates" for the loss of neurons.


OVERVIEW OF The Mind Project's "Virtual Neuroscience Lab #2: Parkinson's Study"

This module covers much (but far from all) of the content of our Virtual Neuroscience Lab #2: Parkinson's Study. If you have the time, we encourage you to immerse yourself in the complete lab, taking advantage of all of the supporting materials for use in the classroom.

This module provides an overview of the main theses offered by two neuroscience researchers and the most important empirical evidence they provide in defense of their theories regarding the nature and cause of Parkinson's Disease. This is a fascinating dispute that should engage the curiosity of students.

Parkinson's Disease: A Debate about its Nature & Cause

The animations embedded in this webpage were originally Flash animations, with interactivity. In January of 2021 they were replaced with .mp4 video files which capture the interactive choices of one particular user. By moving to different parts of the video the user is able to access every part of the original animation.


The Mind Project's "Virtual Neuroscience Lab #2: Parkinson's Study"

This is virtual neuroscience lab in which the user becomes a neurobiologist who studies the loss of dopamine neurons in rats to gather data relevant to the study of neuron loss in Parkinson's patients.

Virtual Neuroscience Lab #2: Parkinson's Study


Funding: This module was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) / Course, Curriculum, Lab Improvement (CCLI) Award #0127561 and National Institute of Health (NIH) / National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) / Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) #1R25RR020425.