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A Tiny Pulse Of Electricity Can Help The Brain Form Lasting Memories

A little electrical brain stimulation can go a long way in boosting memory.   The key is to deliver a tiny pulse of electricity to exactly the right place at exactly the right moment, a team reports in Tuesday’s Nature Communications.   “We saw a 15 percent improvement in memory,” says Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and an author of the study.   The approach hints at a new way of treating people with memory problems caused by a brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease, Kahana says. But the technology is still far from widespread use.   Kahana has spent years trying to understand why the brain often fails to store information we want it to keep.   “When we’re trying to study a list of items,...

Stopping Epilepsy Before It Starts?

“Being able to identify that a person is likely to develop epilepsy following a brain injury is one of the most important focus areas in modern-day epilepsy research,” says Dr. Laura Lubbers, CURE’s Chief Scientific Officer. “With 3.4 million Americans suffering from epilepsy and seizures in the U.S., this discovery of a predictive biomarker for a certain form of epilepsy could prevent unpredictable seizures from taking over the lives of millions of Americans and their families.”   New research, funded by Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), has discovered a ‘smoking gun’ biomarker that could result in treatments that stop some epilepsies before they even start.   Using a rat model of brain injury and epilepsy, CURE-funded researcher Dr. Annamaria Vezzani and her team...

Brain folding sheds light on neurological diseases, researchers find

It may seem unlikely that studying the mechanics of concrete would inform brain research. However, Ellen Kuhl, mechanical engineering professor and head researcher for the Living Matter Lab, started out studying the molecular interactions of concrete and is now applying this understanding to the field of neuroscience, where her research has led to groundbreaking discoveries about neurological disorders.

Embrace by Empatica is the world’s first smart watch to be cleared by FDA for use in Neurology

Empatica Inc has received clearance from the FDA for Embrace, its award-winning smart watch. Embrace uses AI (advanced machine learning) to monitor for the most dangerous kinds of seizures, known as “grand mal” or “generalized tonic-clonic” seizures, and send an alert to summon caregivers’ help.

Individual patient data allow researchers to study brain function using detailed simulations

Using patient measurement data, researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health have refined a brain modeling platform called the Virtual Brain. The software has been used in projects and publications across the globe. The latest findings have been published in eLife.   PHOTO CREDIT: The Virtual Brain is an open-source tool for the simulation of brain networks. Credit: Jessica Palmer/The Virtual Brain

Her Seizures Looked Like Epilepsy, But Her Brain Looked Fine

When Sarah Jay had her first seizure, she was in her mid-20s and working a high-stress job at a call center in Springfield, Mo. “I was going to go on break,” she says. “I was heading towards the bathroom and then I fell and passed out.”   An ambulance took Jay to the hospital but doctors there couldn’t find anything wrong. Jay figured it was a one-time thing. Then a week later, she had another seizure. And that kept happening once or twice a week.   “So I was put on short-term disability for my work to try to figure out what was going on,” says Jay, who’s now 29.   The most likely cause for her seizures was abnormal electrical activity in her brain. In other words, epilepsy.   But Jay’s doctors wanted to be sure. In May 2013, they admitted her to a hospital epilepsy cen...

Deep Learning Device Can Predict Epileptic Seizures

Imagine going about your daily life, working, shopping, and driving, knowing that you might have a seizure at any moment. But relief is on the horizon, as researchers from the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia have developed a potentially life-saving deep learning tool that can predict when an epileptic seizure is about to happen. Their study was published in the journal eBioMedicine last month. The deep learning-based prediction system “achieved mean sensitivity of 69% and mean time warning of 27%, significantly surpassing an equivalent random predictor for all patients by 42%,” according to the findings.

Who’s This? -Can’t Recall A Famous Person’s Name? Blame Your Left Brain

The study – led by University of Manchester psychologists – is the first of its kind to assess the similarities and differences in how the left and right sides of the brain process semantic memory. The research, led by Dr Grace Rice and Professor Matthew Lambon Ralph from The University of Manchester, was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council. The team – working with neuropsychologists at Salford Royal and The Walton Centre for neurology in Liverpool – worked with 41 patients who had part of their brains removed to treat their long-standing epilepsy.

Are there signs of CTE in the brain tissue of younger people with epilepsy?

Younger adults with difficult-to-treat epilepsy may have early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in their brain tissue, but it appears to be uncommon, according to a small, preliminary study published in the January 10, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a rare, degenerative brain disease most likely caused by repeated head trauma. People with CTE may develop symptoms like dementia, personality disorders or behavior problems. People with epilepsy can experience head trauma when they have full body seizures, also called tonic-clonic seizures, or partial or focal seizures where they lose some or all awareness of their surroundings.

What are the symptoms of partial (focal onset) seizures? Types, causes, and treatment

A partial seizure is a surge of electrical activity in just one area of the brain. These seizures are also known as focal onset seizures. A focal seizure can happen for a number of different reasons, so determining the underlying cause is the key to proper treatment.   People who suffer from partial seizures or focal onset seizures experience a lot of physical symptoms, including muscle contractions, visual disturbances, and even blackouts. All of this can be rather frightening.

Monthly brain cycles predict seizures in patients with epilepsy

Implanted electrodes reveal long-term patterns of seizure risk.   University of California San Francisco neurologists have discovered monthly cycles of brain activity linked to seizures in patients with epilepsy. The finding, published online January 8 in Nature Communications, suggests it may soon be possible for clinicians to identify when patients are at highest risk for seizures, allowing patients to plan around these brief but potentially dangerous events.

High dose of Topiramate during pregnancy can up the risk of cleft lip or cleft palate in babies

The risk was higher when the mother took high doses of the drug than when she took lower doses.   A study says a higher dose of topiramate drug during the first tri-semester of pregnancy may up the risk of cleft lip or cleft palate more than when taking a lower dose. Topiramate is prescribed to prevent seizures in people with epilepsy. It is also used to prevent migraine headaches or treat bipolar disorder. In combination with phentermine, it may be prescribed for weight loss. “While topiramate is not recommended for pregnant women, unplanned pregnancies are common, so it’s important to fully examine any possible risk,” said Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. Adding, “Our study found that when pregnant women took topiramate during the f...

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