Our objective is to develop ways of accurately measuring neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
Most medical conditions can be rapidly and objectively quantified using standard equipment. However, the 'gold standard' measure of many brain diseases is still a clinical rating scale, a system of points assigned by an observer based on their impression of the person's condition. Such scales show significant inter-observer variability, and they are also nonlinear, limiting the statistical analyses that can be applied to them.
Objective numerical measures are needed for accurate diagnosis and staging of disease, and monitoring of progression rate. They are also critically important for clinical trials, in three ways. First, a baseline stratification of patients as they enter a trial; second, detection of an early signal to guide critical go/no go decisions; and third, evaluation of trial results.
Our approach is to precisely measure abnormalities of movement and its control using neurophysiological biomarkers. Eye movements have proved to be a particularly rich source of information because they can be evaluated quickly and reliably with equipment that is portable and therefore usable in a clinic setting. We are also developing methods of measurement using both manual and cognitive tests, and have shown that these can be sensitive enough to detect dysfunction in Parkinson's disease even in its very early stages.
Our eventual aim is to replace clinical rating scales in both scientific research and everyday practice, with reliable and objective numerical measures.