Dementia Research Centre


Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia

Research into Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia (LBD) by Professor Rimona Weil's team

Get involved

We are currently recruiting participants for our research programme into Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Ivelina Dobreva at ivelina.dobreva.20@ucl.ac.uk or Naomi Hannaway at  n.hannaway@ucl.ac.uk

Our work

Our group aims to understand how dementia happens in Parkinson’s disease and the underlying causes of Lewy body dementia. We do this through combining advanced neuroimaging techniques with measures of clinical severity and abnormal proteins.
Our programme of work includes projects investigating the neural circuits causing visual hallucinations using high-field MRI, as well as understanding contributing factors to dementia in Parkinson’s such as small vessel disease. 
We seek to develop biomarkers of disease that could be applied in clinical trials and in real-world clinical settings. Our ultimate aim is to help to develop treatments to prevent or slow the progression of dementia in Parkinson’s.

Our Research 

Understanding how dementia happens in Parkinson’s

Dementia is common in Parkinson’s, but the underlying processes that cause it are not clear. We are currently running a large study examining brain changes in people with Parkinson’s, and following-up changes over time. The study involves detailed brain imaging, including advanced MRI techniques, and measures that relate to protein changes including PET scans, blood tests and optional lumbar punctures. 

Lewy body dementia

Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term that includes both Parkinson’s dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. The brain changes that cause these conditions are not fully understood. It is also not clear how different these conditions are. We are running a study involving people with different forms of Lewy body dementia to address these questions. People who take part undergo an MRI brain scan, blood test and thinking and memory tests.

Hallucinations in Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia

Hallucinations are common in both Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia. They are thought to arise due to an imbalance in the feedback signals in the brain. We are using high-field MRI, which is a stronger form of MRI scanning, to investigate how hallucinations happen in Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia. This type of scan gives us higher resolution information about the brain, and means that we can test how brain circuits are affected in people who have hallucinations.

Our work is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Rosetrees, Alzheimer's Research UK, and University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre.