Dementia Research Centre


Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Lewy Body Disease (DLB)

Research into Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body disease (DLB) by Professor Rimona Weil's team

Get involved

We are currently recruiting participants for our longitudinal research programme into Parkinson's Disease as well as our research on Dementia with Lewy Bodies. If you are interested in participating, please contact Ivelina Dobreva at ivelina.dobreva.20@ucl.ac.uk or Naomi Hannaway at  n.hannaway@ucl.ac.uk

Our work

We aim to shed light on how Parkinson’s Disease can affect thinking and memory.  Our ultimate goal is to develop treatments to slow the progression of dementia in Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s is usually thought of as a disease affecting movement, but it can also cause problems with thinking and memory. It affects people in different ways, making it difficult to predict what will happen to an individual. We have developed sensitive visual tests for people with Parkinson’s Disease to detect whether the thinking parts of the brain are involved.

Our group uses these sensitive visual tests, combined with brain imaging and retinal imaging to understand how cognition is affected in Parkinson’s disease.  We also use these tools to understand the related disease, Dementia with Lewy Bodies.


Our work is funded by the Wellcome Trust.  We are also supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and by the British Medical Association.

Our research

Using visual dysfunction to understand Parkinson’s disease
Patients with Parkinson’s that develop visuo-perceptual problems are at highest risk of dementia.  We are carrying out a longitudinal neuroimaging study to test with visual dysfunction is associated with changes in grey matter atrophy in people with Parkinson’s disease. We are also carrying out a large-scale web-based study to examine whether these differences in visual performance may have underlying genetic determinants.

Lewy body dementia
Parkinson’s disease dementia and Dementia with Lewy bodies are together known as Lewy body dementia. We are using brain imaging and measures of proteins in the blood to try to understand these diseases better. We aim to find markers of disease activity so that clinical trials can be designed more efficiently.

Understanding the neural circuits of visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease
Visual hallucinations are commonly seen in people with Parkinson’s and can become distressing. But the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Recent evidence suggests they arise from imbalance between feedforward (incoming sensory signals) and feedback signals (from higher to lower-level brain areas). These signals travel in separate brain layers, but conventional brain imaging lacks the magnetic strength to distinguish layers. We are using newly-available high magnetic field strength imaging to identify changes in feedback and feedforward layers in people with Lewy body dementia who experience visual hallucinations.