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Dr. Colum MacKinnon

Associate Professor

University of Minnesota

Neurology

Dr. MacKinnon is an Associate Professor and the director of the Movement Disorders Laboratory, Department of Neurology, at the University of Minnesota.   The mission of the laboratory is to gain a greater understanding of the mechanisms causing movement problems in people with neurological disorders and to translate this knowledge to the development of novel therapies and interventions to improve movement function, mobility, and quality of life. The laboratory uses a variety of non-invasive neurophysiological techniques (high-resolution EEG, TMS, tDCS, startle) to probe the cortical, subcortical, and spinal mechanisms contributing to movement impairment. In collaboration with colleagues at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), we also use high-field magnetic resonance imaging (7T MRI) to examine the changes in brain anatomy and connectivity associated with movement disorders. These methods are combined with quantitative measures of movement (3D-kinematics, kinetics and multi-channel electromyography) that provide an objective quantitative assessment of movement performance. 

Our present research focus is on the mechanisms contributing to the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The laboratory is currently examining: (1) the relationship between postural instability and gait dysfunction, freezing of gait, and sleep disorders in people with Parkinson's disease (NIH grant RO1 NS088679), (2) neuroplastic changes in cortical-basal ganglia connectivity in early stage Parkinson’s disease and the expression of motor and non-motor signs (NIH grant RO1 NS113746), and (3) the mechanisms and pathways mediating the improvement or worsening of motor function with deep brain stimulation of the globus pallidus or subthalamic nucleus (NIH Udall P50 NS098573). We are also developing novel methods to examine and test the function of descending brainstem pathways in the control of posture, balance and gait (Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Fund) and working with industry to develop mobile devices to monitor gait and provide sensory cues to facilitate movement in people with Parkinson's disease and freezing of gait (NIH SBIR R43, AG057263). The laboratory is part of the UMN Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Researchto advance the basic understanding and therapeutic efficacy of deep brain stimulation technology.