The Neuroscience of Parkinson’s

EP 101 - podcast image

Parkinson’s is complicated. Everyone who lives with it presents with their own unique set of symptoms, and they treat it with their own unique blend of medications, interventions and behaviors. However, even if it shows up differently for everyone, what’s going on in their brain is similar. 

In this episode, you will learn: 

  • What causes Parkinson’s
  • The symptoms that guide a clinical diagnosis
  • What it’s like to be a care partner for someone living with Parkinson’s
  • The genetics of Parkinson’s
  • New research about the link between the gut and Parkinson’s


  • 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's
  • Four percent of people with Parkinson's are diagnosed before the age of 50 - called Young Onset Parkinson's Disease (YOPD)
  • Men are 1.5 times more likely than women to be diagnosed
  • Parkinson's diagnosis is assessed on four primary motor symptoms
    • resting tremor
    • rigidity
    • bradykinesia
    • loss of postural stability
  • By the time motor symptoms appear, most people have lost 80% of the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra
  • Fifteen percent of people with Parkinson's have a family history of it
  • From a genetics standpoint, Parkinson's can be caused by mutations in the LRRK2, PARK7, PINK1, PRKN, or SNCA gene
  • New research is looking into the relationship between the gut and Parkinson's
  • Levodopa is the gold standard medication for those living with Parkinson's

Concepts Mentioned in this Podcast & Further Reading

Kelsey Phinney - The Parkinson's Podcast

Kelsey Phinney’s dad, Davis Phinney, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was around five years old. She has been interested in learning more about the brain and ways to help people living with Parkinson’s ever since. Kelsey graduated from Middlebury College in 2016 with a degree in Neuroscience. She uses her studies, her life experience and the interviews she conducts with experts to inform her new podcast series with us called The Parkinson’s Podcast™. She currently splits her time between Vermont, Colorado and on the road as a professional cross-country skier with hopes of making the next Olympics. Learn more about Kelsey at

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

Listen & Subscribe

Apple PodcastsStitcher | SoundCloud | Google Podcasts

Share this post on social:

To receive our electronic newsletter and other updates, sign up now.

Related Posts

Comments (27)

I am newly diagnosed and have so many questions. I look forward to receiving your podcast each week. Thank you

Hi Ron – You might also enjoy this article we published earlier this year: You’ve Been Diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Now What? Also, if you have questions and would like to connect with someone who is traveling a similar path, you might consider reaching out to one of our Ambassadors. They’d love to help out and provide support in any way they can. You can learn about them and choose someone to connect with here.

This is a great start to a promising series. Research and technical elements delivered in accessible and engaging manner. Personal anecdotes
ground the science in human experience.Analogies used to illustrate
concepts clearly. Well done!

Thank you!

Just beginning learning about Parkinson’s. My father has been diagnosed and I want all the information I can get. Thank you for the podcasts…I’m most interested in treatments to slow progression and to relieve the frustrations involved with progression. My father is 80 years old and my main concern is keeping him comfortable and sharp. You mentioned you may be able to add a more detailed teaching podcast about disrupted pathways. I will be a listener if you do decide to do that. Thanks again…

Thank you for listening, Ronny. Do you have our Every Victory Counts® eBook? If not, it would be a great resource for you and your dad. You can download it immediately at I will also keep you posted if we do a podcast episode or any content in the future about disrupted pathways. Best to your father.

Retired biology professor, recently diagnosed at age 81. Appreciate the amazing efforts you have made to present essential information in a most responsible way (not oversimplified). I have only heard Episode 101, and enjoyed it (if that’s the word to use! Maybe “appreciated it” is better! 🙂 ) I especially appreciate the articles you’ve linked to in red (“bradykinesia” and the gut connection). Looking forward to coming episodes.

Thank you for all of this wonderful information. My husband was diagnosed in 2006. His symptoms were a right hand/arm tremor, depression and insomnia. He had never had difficulty with either of the latter. He was a walking letter carrier for over 30 years, loved his job and a really happy fellow that loved life. We have been married for 52 years. He is now 73. The last three years has been the most difficult. He would never consider DBS . He sees a movement disorder specialist in Lubbock, Texas. He went through the BIG program fall of 2015. We both learned so much. Addtionally, he does water therapy every weekday if we don’t have other commitments. August 29, 2018 he had a PEG J tube placed and started Duopa through a 16 hour pump the week following. It has helped with stamina and what we call his afternoon crash which included extreme fatigue, paranoia, and a feeling of hopelessness. That has improved! He was able with the use of a walker and wheelchair to attend his 55th high school class reunion this past weekend. Something he/we wanted to do but didn’t think possible.
Looking forward to more of you pod casts!
Note: In addition to Parkinson’s he has had hip issues that have caused addtional walking problems.

Thanks for listening, Carol. It sounds like your husband is doing everything he can to take control of his Parkinson’s and live well with it despite the challenges. And he’s very lucky to have you for a care partner. 52 years!!! Congratulations!

Ralph Schippanoski

Very well done!

Very helpful and informative. I hope that my experience with Parkinsons disease and the supportive community can help others.
Recently I have joined Rock steady Boxing and I have found it to be very helpful.

I thought the presentation was very good, we listened to on a I-pad and I was disappointed that there no video. This is my first experience with a podcast so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Thank you for listening, Jean. It would be great to add a video component; however, for the time being, our podcasts will be audio only. If you’d like to check out some of our videos, you can watch videos on our YouTube channel here:

Very informative and a great resource to patients like me trying to understand this very complicated illness. Thanks for doing this.

Thank you for listening, Frank. We’re glad you found value in it. Stay tuned for more!

This introductory podcast was very well done….. Kelsey did an outstanding job of summarizing and explaining the basics of PD. I look forward to future topics and interviews ..Thank you for all the Foundation does to improve the quality of life for those of us living with this disease !!

Thank you for listening, Miller. We’re so glad you enjoyed it.

I so appreciate your blog
It makes me feel like I’m not alone
I plan on listening in the future

This first podcast was absolutely brilliant! Thank you Kelsey for communicating this both scientifically and w your family perspective. ( I loved the Halloween/Ski analogy!). I can’t wait to hear the rest of your podcasts

Thank you for tuning in, Kevin. I loved the ski analogy, too! I think it was a great way to bring it all together… especially with ski season around the corner:)

I sincerely appreciate you taking on such a complex topic. Congratulations on attaining your degree. There are many others like myself that would like to hear even more detail regarding the Neuroscience of Parkinson’s. This podcast will aide me in discussions with my Movement Disorder Specialist. Is there a transcription of the podcast? Again, I applaud your efforts.

Hi Brad – We’re glad you’re enjoying the podcast. Unfortunately, we do not have transcripts available at this time.

Love what you offer and I spread the word about Davis phinney foundation every chance I get.

Thank you, Judith!

I was diagnosed by Dr. Brewer in Spring of 2016. I reside in TN. I am Boxing to see if it helps. I am 84 yrs. old.

I was reading comments about pd and there were a couple of mentions about and herbal company that had an herbal formula that improved their symptoms in 3 to 4 weeks, I had to leave and when I came back I couldn’t find it.
If any one has heard of it I would to know where to fine it and of course the name of the company.
thank you

Your presentation is so accessible.! I’ll be sharing it with our community of people with PD and care partners. Nice job, Kelsey!

Comments are closed.

Back to top