Parkinsonism – slowed movement, muscle rigidity and tremor – is a classic set of neurological symptoms most often seen in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Because neuron loss in the substantia nigra – a region of the brain associated with motor planning – is the hallmark characteristic of Parkinson’s disease, parkinsonism has long been thought to originate there. However, parkinsonism can occur in patients who have other conditions that leave the substantia nigra intact, making the true source of the suite of symptoms a mystery. 

Now, a team of investigators led by neuroscientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has identified the claustrum – a little understood sheet of neurons thought to play a role in sensory integration – as the likely origin of parkinsonism across different conditions.

Link to full BIDMC news brief for study co-led by MGH investigator Juho Joutsa.