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Your neurons register familiar faces, whether you notice them or not

When people see an image of a person they recognize—the famous tennis player Roger Federer or actress Halle Berry, for instance—particular cells light up in the brain. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on September 21 have found that those cells light up even when a person sees a familiar face or object but fails to notice it. The only difference in that case is that the neural activity is weaker and delayed in comparison to what happens when an observer consciously registers and can recall having seen a particular image.

Goal of new tissue-chip research is to assess efficacy of novel epilepsy drugs

An interdisciplinary team of Vanderbilt University researchers has received a two-year, $2-million federal grant to develop an “organ-on-chip” model for two genetic forms of epilepsy. These disorders affect both brain and heart and improved modeling could lead to new drug treatments.   The project led by John Wikswo, A.B. Learned Professor of Living State Physics and Gordon A. Cain University Professor, along with Aaron Bowman, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Neurology, and Kevin Ess, Gerald M. Fenichel Professor of Neurology and Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurology in the School of Medicine, is one of 13 “tissue chip” awards announced last week by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the Natio...

VNS Therapy Stimulator Implanted In Therapy Dog With Epilepsy

It’s hard enough to get your dog to take their heartworm medicine once a month. Now try giving a dog 25 pills, EVERY DAY.  There’s not enough peanut butter and ham to help make the medicine go down. But that has been the reality for one Savannah dog and his owners. Things could be changing, thanks to a history-making surgery. 

Local epileptic seizure shows long distance interaction

An epileptic seizure may be highly local, but it also influences brain activity at a distance of over ten centimeters from the core. This, in turn, affects the active area, scientists of the University of Twente and the University of Chicago show in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The area in which an epileptic seizure starts in the brain, may be small but it reaches other parts of the brain at distances of over 10 centimeters. That distant activity, in turn, influences the epileptic core, according to mathematicians and neurologists of the University of Twente and the University of Chicago.

Epilepsy drugs pose risks to developing brains, study suggests

Some drugs used to treat epilepsy harm children who are exposed to them in the womb or through breast milk, a new analysis of the literature suggests1. The drug valproate is particularly risky, boosting the likelihood of autism and other developmental problems up to 17-fold. The study is the first to compare the relative risks of taking various epilepsy drugs during pregnancy. Some of these medications are also used to treat bipolar disorder and migraines.

NeuroPace Epileptic Seizure Control System: Interview with Dr. Martha Morrell, CMO of NeuroPace

People with certain types of epilepsy may have the option to use a therapy that doesn’t include drugs. The RNS System from NeuroPace, a company out of Mountain View, California, monitors the brain for signs of an oncoming seizure and stimulates it to disrupt the process. It has been approved in the U.S. for about four years now, and we wanted to find more about how it works and how it’s being used. We had a chance to speak with Dr. Martha Morrell, Chief Medical Officer of NeuroPace, who was kind enough to answer our questions. Medgadget: The NeuroPace RNS system has shown to be effective at reducing seizures in many patients with epilepsy. Can you give us a brief overview of how the system functions?

Self-Management Programs Help with Epilepsy

For 10 years the CDC Managing Epilepsy Well Network has developed innovative programs using e-tools to reach people with epilepsy. Learn how these programs can help your patients with epilepsy better manage their condition. The Importance of Epilepsy Self-Management Epilepsy is a broad term used for a brain disorder that causes seizures. There are many different types of epilepsy and many different kinds of seizures. Epilepsy can get in the way of life, mostly when seizures keep happening. Although there are many drugs to help prevent seizures, they don’t always work. In fact, about one-third of people with epilepsy who are receiving care still have seizures.1 Uncontrolled seizures can increase the risk of injury, anxiety, depression, brain damage, and in rare cases, death. They can also i...

3D printed brain-like tissue for neurotransmitter production

Armed with a 3D printer and bio-ink made from stem cells, Australian scientists have created brain-like tissue in a breakthrough research. The unique bio-ink is composed of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) – possessing the same properties as embryonic stem cells – capable of transforming into any cell (and organ) in the body.

New method identifies brain regions most likely to cause epilepsy seizures

Scientists have developed a new way to detect which areas of the brain contribute most greatly to epilepsy seizures, according to a PLOS Computational Biology study. The strategy, devised by Marinho Lopes of the University of Exeter and colleagues, could help surgeons select specific brain areas for removal to stop seizures.

National and State Estimates of the Numbers of Adults and Children with Active Epilepsy — United States, 2015

Epilepsy, a brain disorder leading to recurring seizures, has garnered increased public health focus because persons with epilepsy experience pronounced and persistent health and socioeconomic disparities despite treatment advances, public awareness programs, and expanded rights for persons with disabilities (1,2). For almost all states, epilepsy prevalence estimates do not exist. CDC used national data sources including the 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for adults (aged ≥18 years), the 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), and the 2015 Current Population Survey data, describing 2014 income levels, to estimate prevalent cases of active epilepsy, overall and by state, to provide information for state public health planning. In 2015, 1.2% of the U.S. populatio...

It was all yellow: did digitalis affect the way Van Gogh saw the world?

Extracted from foxgloves, digitalis was once used as a treatment for epilepsy. Could a side effect have triggered the artist’s “yellow period”? It was recently the 127th anniversary of the tragic death of Vincent van Gogh. His short life came to an untimely end two days after he shot himself in the chest; he had experienced mental health issues through much of his life. In the absence of a definitive diagnosis, speculation as to the true nature of his illness fills volumes.

Save a Life – Please Be Aware Water Born Amoeba Causes Seizures and Even Death

Today I received some devastating news.  I received a Facebook Message from someone I know:  “Chuck, My son died of epilepsy on Mother’s Day.  He may have had abdominal form since middle school. How can we raise awareness for those with epilepsy and cyclic vomiting?  He left some acoustic guitar music he played despite repeated seizures and memory loss.”  From a father and a doctor. Many people may not be aware that there is a water born ameba (Yes, even in the U.S.) that eats away the brain tissue and can result in seizures and other illness. 

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