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Neurons: The basics

Neurons are responsible for carrying information throughout the human body. Using electrical and chemical signals, they help coordinate all of the necessary functions of life. In this article, we explain what neurons are and how they work.   In short, our nervous systems detect what is going on around us and inside of us; they decide how we should act, alter the state of internal organs (heart rate changes, for instance), and allows us to think about and remember what is going on. To do this, it relies on a sophisticated network — neurons.   It has been estimated that there are around 86 billion neurons in the brain; each one is connected to another 1,000 neurons. This creates an incredibly complex network of communication. Neurons are considered the basic units of the nervous sy...

Seizure Triggers: Research Sheds Lights on How Certain Stimuli Cause Seizures

Why does exposure to rhythmic stimulation at certain frequencies facilitate the occurrence of epileptic seizures?

Researchers discover a new stage of the development cycle of the human brain

Researchers discover mass migration of inhibitory neurons into the brain’s frontal cortex after birth Researchers at UC San Francisco have discovered a previously unknown mass migration of inhibitory neurons into the brain’s frontal cortex during the first few months after birth, revealing a stage of brain development that had previously gone unrecognized. The authors hypothesize that this late-stage migration may play a role in establishing fundamentally human cognitive abilities and that its disruption could underlie a number of neurodevelopmental diseases. Most neurons of the cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain responsible for advanced cognition – migrate outward from their birthplaces deep in the brain to take up their positions within the cortex....

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...

Relief for epilepsy at the scale of a single cell

Date: August 23, 2016 Source: Linköping University Summary: Researchers have developed in collaboration with French colleagues a small device that both detects the initial signal of an epileptic attack and doses a substance that effectively stops it. All this takes place where the signal arises — in an area of size 20chr(‘215’)20 μm known as a ‘neural pixel.’ The bioelectronic neural pixel: Chemical stimulation and electrical sensing at the same site Researchers at Linköping University have developed in collaboration with French colleagues a small device that both detects the initial signal of an epileptic attack and doses a substance that effectively stops it. All this takes place where the signal arises — in an area of size 20×20 μm known as a “n...

Cause of Neuron Death in Neurological Disease Researched

Elusive brain receptor may play vital role in death of neurons from neurological diseases Strokes, seizures, traumatic brain injury and schizophrenia: these conditions can cause persistent, widespread acidity around neurons in the brain. But exactly how that acidity affects brain function isn’t well understood. In a paper published in March in Scientific Reports, University at Buffalo researchers have begun to unravel some of the puzzle. They found that an elusive brain receptor may play an important role in the death of neurons from neurological diseases. The UB researchers study a family of brain receptors that are critical to learning and memory, called NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors. They found that one of these receptors called N3A functions through a different mechanism ...

New computational techniques could help researchers pinpoint anatomical source of seizures

For the third of all epilepsy patients who don’t respond to medication, an alternative is to locate the small cluster of neurons that act as the seed of a seizure’s aberrant electrical activity and surgically remove it. Unfortunately, such surgeries often fail to bring any relief. The ability to reliably pinpoint the anatomical source of seizures, different for each patient, remains elusive. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and Perelman School of Medicine are looking for ways to refine this process by looking at networks of electrical activity in the brain just prior to the onset of a seizure. Using brain data crowdsourced from 22 epilepsy patients with implanted electrodes, the researchers have developed a series o...

Neuroscientists interpret code the brain uses to make noisy neuronal circuits

By analyzing the signals of individual neurons in animals undergoing behavioral tests, neuroscientists at Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Geneva and the University of Rochester have deciphered the code the brain uses to make the most of its inherently “noisy” neuronal circuits. The human brain contains about 100 billion neurons, and each of these sends signals to thousands of other neurons each second. Understanding how neurons work, both individually and collectively, is important to better understand how humans think, as well as to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression, traumatic brain injury and paralysis.

Epilepsy Drugs Could Be Used To Prevent Or Treat Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease

With the lack of reliable treatment for Alzheimer’s disease today, neurologists have focused their attention on treating the disease or at the very least delaying its onset. A recent study conducted at the University of British Columbia has found that drugs used to prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic seizures, also known as anticonvulsants, could become a promising treatment option for patients with Alzheimer’s as well. “Now we have many different research groups using antiepileptic drugs that engage the same target, and all point to a therapeutic effect in both Alzheimer’s disease models and patients with the disease,” Dr. Haakon Nygaard, the Fipke Professor in Alzheimer’s Research in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, said in a statement.

Synchrotron X-Ray Microbeams ‘Could Aid Treatment Of Drug-Resistant Epilepsy’

Via EpilepsyResearchUK: New research has shed light on the potential effectiveness of using synchrotron X-ray microbeams as a means of treating patients with forms of epilepsy that have proven resistant to treatment with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Led by the Grenoble Institut des Neurosciences, the European research project examined several studies recently performed to evaluate the antiepileptic effects of X-ray synchrotron microbeams in different animal models of epilepsy, as well as to try and understand how they function. Radiotherapy is an emerging alternative to other epileptic treatments, with this study evaluating the latest methods using the capabilities of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble. According to data published in the journal Physica Medica, the new ...

Researchers discover new cause to explain development of temporal lobe epilepsy

Epilepsy is a very prevalent neurological disorder. Approximately one-third of patients are resistant to currently available therapies. A team of researchers under the guidance of the Institute of Cellular Neurosciences at the University of Bonn has discovered a new cause to explain the development of temporal lobe epilepsy: At an early stage, astrocytes are uncoupled from each other. This results in the extracellular accumulation of potassium ions and neurotransmitters, which cause hyperexcitability of the neurons. The results are being published in advance online in the journal “Brain“. The print version will be published in May.

Anxiety and déjà vu: an interview with Dr Christine Wells, Sheffield Hallam University

Interview conducted by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab) What is currently known about how and why déjà vu happens? It’s thought that the neural basis of déjà vu is located in the temporal lobes, a region of the brain strongly associated with the storage and retrieval of memories. One source of support for this is evidence from individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy, some of whom experience déjà vu episodes as part of seizure-related auras. It is unclear as to why non-TLE déjà vu experiences occur, but what we do know is that occasional occurrences of this feeling are reported by a considerable proportion of the population. Psychologists tend to think of it as a memory failure of sorts – we experience novelty accompanied by an erroneous sense of familiarity. Please can you outline th...

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