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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.

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?

Pioneering research reveals how altered brain networks can lead to seizures

An international team of scientists, led by mathematicians from the University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute, have developed a ground-breaking new method that can identify regions of brain tissue most likely to generate seizures in people with epilepsy. The innovative new method, which utilizes mathematical modelling, offers the potential to complement existing clinical approaches and could lead to enhanced surgical outcomes. The new research is published in leading scientific journal, PLOS Computational Biology. Epilepsy, which affects around 1 in 100 people worldwide, is predominantly treated by a range of medications. However, in around a third of cases people do not experience adequate seizure control through drugs and alternative therapies are sought. In some instances su...

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.

Neuroscientists develop new forms of diagnosis and therapy for temporal lobe epilepsy

What if you fell off your bicycle today and ten years later you developed epilepsy? Relationships like this might appear far-fetched but are entirely possible, say Freiburg researchers. Using the latest MRI scanning procedures, Prof. Dr. Carola Haas, Department of Neurosurgery, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Hennig, Department of Radiology, and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Egert, Department of Microsystems Engineering (MST) of the University of Freiburg, in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Jan Korvink of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, have shown how certain disorders of the hippocampus can initiate a drug resistant epilepsy. The team has discovered biomarkers that – if used for screening – could massively improve treatment options for epilepsy. The researchers have published their results in the onlin...

Genetic Testing Can Help Pinpoint Epilepsy Earlier

A new study supports routine genetic testing for epilepsy in young children with seizures. “Precision medicine means nothing without precision diagnosis, and we can now provide precision diagnosis,” said study lead author Anne Berg, of the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Pairnomix, StemoniX Develop Epilepsy Model in Search for New Anti-seizure Drugs

Pairnomix has joined efforts with StemoniX to develop a lab-based model of epileptic seizures using so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The model, which researchers refer to as a “seizure-in-a-dish” model system, will allow scientists to study seizures at a network level. In this way, they can use the model to screen for anti-epileptic drugs in a fast and easy manner. Minneapolis-based Pairnomix has expertise in epilepsy models, while San Diego-based StemoniX has developed the microBrain Platform. The model mirrors tissue architecture in the brain, with nerve cells connecting to each other through synapses, forming functional networks. For brain diseases such as epilepsy, iPSCs are invaluable research tools. These cells can be derived from skin tissue, and are forced to backt...

This musician strummed a guitar during his own brain surgery

Guitar players can strum almost anywhere, from a beach to a park bench to an operating room — while undergoing brain surgery. That’s where Abhishek Prasad peddled his musical wares during a four-hour surgery in India that aimed to correct cramping in his fingers, his surgeon said.

Epilepsy biomarkers pave way for noninvasive diagnosis, better treatments

Researchers have identified a unique metabolic signature associated with epileptic brain tissue that causes seizures. The chemical biomarker can be detected noninvasively using technology based on magnetic resonance imaging. It will allow physicians to precisely identify small regions of abnormal brain tissue in early-stage epilepsy patients that can’t be detected today using current technology. The biomarker could also be used to localize epileptic brain regions for therapeutic removal without the need for additional surgery.

Potential Surgery Treatment for Certain Epilepsy Patients, Review Says

A technique called MRI-guided laser interstitial thermal therapy (MgLiTT) may be a potential treatment for epilepsy patients, according to a recent review. Researchers say that MgLiTT may be a particularly viable option for patients whose seizures are caused by tumor-like bodies affecting the hypothalamus, which are difficult to treat with traditional surgery.

What is the vagus nerve?

The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves that emanate from the brain. It transmits information to or from the surface of the brain to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body. The name “vagus” comes from the Latin term for “wandering.” This is because the vagus nerve wanders from the brain into organs in the neck, chest, and abdomen.

Researchers Identify New Link Between Gene Expression and Brain Memory Processing

Researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have discovered that more than 100 genes are linked to memory processing in the brain. The discovery could lead to the development of new therapies for memory-associated conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and others, the study’s authors said.

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