University Of Queensland Study Finds New Treatment For Communication Disorders
In the first study of its kind, functional MRI was used to study patterns of brain activity while healthy individuals performed a language task and were given Levodopa, a drug that increases levels of dopamine, a common neurotransmitter in the brain.
Dr David Copland, from UQ's Centre for Clinical Research and School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and Dr Katie McMahon and Dr Greig de Zubicaray from UQ Centre for Clinical Research.
The team found the drug improved the speed of language processing in regions of the brain associated with language and through activating brain regions more commonly associated with attention.
The findings were recently published in the prestigious journal Cerebral Cortex.
"Up until now we've known that problems in dopamine systems, such as those seen in schizophrenia or in Parkinson's disease, can be associated with language difficulties," Dr Copland said.
"But we haven't known exactly how dopamine influences language."
Dr Copland said in addition to gaining a better understanding of the symptoms associated with these and other common diseases associated with dopamine transmission problems, this finding has significant implications for new treatments of adult language disorders.
"This finding points to a potential new use for these type of drugs, so they might be combined with current language treatments to improve communication in people with brain injury," he said.
"This is a new direction we're currently considering."
University of Queensland