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National Ataxia Foundation

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Research Methods

Snapshot: What is the grip strength test?

Many daily tasks, such as writing or buttoning a shirt, require fine motor skills. One aspect of fine motor skills is muscle strength. In order to write, for example, you need to grip the pencil with the appropriate amount of force. Ataxia can involve a loss of control over fine Read More…

Snapshot: What is Immunofluorescence?

Immunofluorescence is a common laboratory technique used to see proteins in a sample through microscopy. It relies on attaching a fluorophore, a chemical compound that can release light of a certain colour, to an antibody that can recognize a specific protein of interest. Immunofluorescence is an important tool for studying Read More…

Snapshot: What is the Pole Test?

The pole test is a common and straightforward test to assess motor coordination in mice. While ataxia might be easy to see in patients, it is not always as apparent in ataxia mouse models. Therefore, this fast and simple test is important for researchers to measure disease severity. It is Read More…

Snapshot: What is Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)?

Public transit may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about the brain, but it’s a great way to understand how all the parts of the central nervous system work together. Nutrients, hormones, and other important molecules (the passengers) need to get on and off Read More…

Snapshot: What is Gait Analysis in Ataxia Mouse Models?

A key role of the cerebellum is to control and fine-tune coordinated movement such as walking. Although walking is an unconscious behaviour, it is actually very complex and requires many systems to work together. The specific mannerisms and patterns of coordinated movement that make up how an individual walks are Read More…

Snapshot: What is the Morris Water Maze Test?

Spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are well known for worsening motor coordination symptoms caused by the degeneration of the cerebellum. Yet, increasing reports indicate that broader changes are occurring in the brains of some SCA patients. This includes changes in the hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning and memory. One way Read More…

Snapshot: What is the balance beam test?

When you think of a balance beam, you might think of gymnastics. For humans, a balance beam is a surface where we perform jumps, flips, and other athletic feats. Whether it’s a child taking their first class, or an Olympic athlete going for gold, the balance beam requires both balance Read More…

Snapshot: What is a Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS)?

A genome is a person’s complete set of DNA which provides the instructions to make and maintain their body’s functions. Throughout the entire genome, there are genetic differences between individuals known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (pronounced “snips”). These variations may be unique or may occur in many people. Read More…

Snapshot: What is Autophagy?

Autophagy is an important disposal mechanism in our bodies, and it is not as scary as the word sounds. The word autophagy is derived from Greek, with ‘auto’ referring to ‘self’ and ‘phagy’ meaning ‘eating’. Autophagy is important for the growth and development of our cells. It helps to restructure Read More…

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