Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease - Dr Asheeta Prasad

Dr Asheeta Prasad, is an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher at UNSW School of Psychology, is a finalist of the Parkinson's NSW Young Researcher of The Year 2016.

Asheeta applies cutting edge technology of optogenetics and chemogenetics to find novel therapeutics for Parkinson’s Disease. Her recent publication shows simultaneous inhibition of Subthalamic nucleus (STN) and Ventral Pallidum (ventral GP), does not affect locomotor behaviour, yet has significant reduction in motivation (Prasad and McNally, 2016; Journal of Neuroscience). This data along with others show that STN and VP have roles beyond motor control.

Parkinson's disease affects an estimated 10 million individual’s worldwide and 70,000 people in Australia. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disease in Australia after dementia.


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of subthalamic nucleus (STN) and globus pallidus (GP) are current therapeutic surgical procedures for patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Yet little is known about the non-motor effects of DBS on behaviours, such as motivation, learning and memory. Asheeta’s research applies optogenetic technology in the rodent PD model to better understand the motor and non-motor effects of STN and GP manipulation. Optogenetics technology allows neural manipulation with millisecond control in freely moving animals.

Her research aims to establish the independent roles of VP and STN on motor control and non-motor symptoms of PD. Asheeta’s research has significant translational value, as the outcomes from this research will assist in strategies to alleviate disabling motor and non-motor symptoms of PD.