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Research reveals underappreciated role of brainstem in epilepsy

New research from Vanderbilt suggests that repeated seizures reduce brainstem connectivity, a possible contributor to unexplained neurocognitive problems in epilepsy patients. The brainstem has been rarely studied in epilepsy because seizures typically originate in the temporal lobe or other areas of the cortex. Noting that people with temporal lobe epilepsy often lose consciousness even though the temporal lobe does not control wakefulness, Dario Englot, MD, Ph.D., surgical director of epilepsy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he decided to focus on the region that does control wakefulness—the brainstem. He hypothesized that connectivity disruptions with the brainstem resulting from a history of seizures might play a role in diminished cognitive functions that are not related...

Left brain vs. right brain: Fact and fiction

The two hemispheres or sides of the brain — the left and the right — have slightly different jobs. But can one side be dominant and does this affect personality?   Some people believe that a person is either left-brained or right-brained and that this determines the way they think and behave.   In this article, we explore the truth and fallacy behind this claim. Read on to learn more about the functions and characteristics of the left and right brain.

Epilepsy associated with brain volume, thickness differences: Study

he largest-ever neuroimaging study of people with epilepsy shows that epilepsy involves more widespread physical differences than previously assumed   Epilepsy, a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, is linked to brain volume and thickness differences, according to a study.   Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects 0.6-1.5% of the global population, comprising many different syndromes and conditions, and defined by a tendency for seizures.   The research was led by UCL and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.   The largest-ever neuroimaging study of people with epilepsy shows that epilepsy involves more widespread physical differences than previously assumed, even in types of epilepsy that are typically considered to be more benign if...

First Guideline on Presurgical Brain Mapping for Epilepsy

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has released the first evidence-based guideline comparing procedures used for determining brain lateralization prior to epilepsy surgery and for predicting post-surgical language and memory deficits.

Neuroscientists uncover how the brain retunes to pull meaning out of noisy environment

When you’re suddenly able to understand someone despite their thick accent, or finally make out the lyrics of a song, your brain appears to be re-tuning to recognize speech that was previously incomprehensible.

Study improves molecular understanding of the brain in people with epilepsy

Neural stem cells have been found in epileptic brain tissue—outside the regions of the brain where they normally reside. In a group of patients who underwent surgery for epilepsy, over half had stem cells where healthy individuals do not have them, according to a study from Sahlgrenska Academy.

Rhythm of breathing influences emotional judgments and memory recall

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall. These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.

Scientists develop new model to provide predictions linking brain circuits to brain activity

For as long as scientists have been listening in on the activity of the brain, they have been trying to understand the source of its noisy, apparently random, activity. In the past 20 years, “balanced network theory” has emerged to explain this apparent randomness through a balance of excitation and inhibition in recurrently coupled networks of neurons. A team of scientists has extended the balanced model to provide deep and testable predictions linking brain circuits to brain activity. Lead investigators at the University of Pittsburgh say the new model accurately explains experimental findings about the highly variable responses of neurons in the brains of living animals. On Oct. 31, their paper, “The spatial structure of correlated neuronal variability,” was publ...

UVA researchers begin first clinical trial using focused ultrasound to treat patients with epilepsy

Researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) are starting the first clinical trial in the world using focused ultrasound to treat patients with epilepsy. The study, supported by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation in collaboration with the Epilepsy Foundation, will assess the feasibility, safety and initial effectiveness of focused ultrasound to non-invasively destroy (ablate) diseased brain tissue that causes seizures. The study is now recruiting up to 15 adult patients with a range of rare deep brain lesions that produce debilitating seizures that often do not respond to medications. It is expected that most patients in the study will have benign tumors in the hypothalamus, which can lead to frequent seizures with outbursts of spontaneous laughing, giggling, crying or grunting; developm...

Researchers discover network of neural regions involved in spread of seizures

A flurry of coordinated activity in a brain-spanning network of neurons may sound like the formation of a brilliant new idea, but it is actually the description of a seizure. Understanding why and how this synchronization spreads would be a critical tool in treating severe epilepsy. In a study published in Neuron, an interdisciplinary team of University of Pennsylvania researchers has identified a new explanation for this phenomenon. Using a computer model based on direct brain recordings from epilepsy patients, they are the first to show the existence of a network of neural regions that can push or pull on the synchronization of the regions directly involved in a seizure. With further study, this regulatory network could be a more effective target for epilepsy therapies, including implant...

Using a Virus to Treat Disease

New virus-based method opens wide range of options to treat various diseases The ability to switch disease-causing genes on and off remains a dream for many physicians, research scientists and patients. Research teams from across the world are busy turning this dream into a reality, incuding a team of researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. Led by Dr. Mazahir T. Hasan, and working under the auspices of the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, the team has successfully programmed a virus to transport the necessary genetic material to affected tissue and nerve cells inside the body. A report on their new virus-based method, which delivers instructions to the host genome without becoming part of it, has been publ...

Brain Implant that ‘Dissolves’ Over Time

An implantable brain device that literally melts away at a pre-determined rate minimizes injury to tissue normally associated with standard electrode implantation, according to research led by a team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The researchers describe online in Nature Materials a new class of technology that provides greater resolution for measuring electrical activity in space and time that matches or exceeds existing methods. “Dissolvable silicon electronics offer an unprecedented opportunity to implant advanced monitoring systems that eliminate the risks, cost, and discomfort associated with surgery to extract current devices used for post-operative monitoring,” said senior co-author Brian Litt, MD, a professor of Neurology, Neuro...

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