Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists At Penn Track Epileptic Seizures

Date:
April 27, 2001
Source:
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists studying epilepsy at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center are finding a pattern of human brain activity that indicates the conditions triggering seizures can take hours to develop.

Scientists studying epilepsy at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center are finding a pattern of human brain activity that indicates the conditions triggering seizures can take hours to develop.

Related Articles


The work points toward a method to short-circuit epileptic seizures and convulsions before they strike, through the use of implantable brain devices and medications, according to Brian Litt, MD, author of the study. It appears April 26 in the journal Neuron.

"This study is part of a large collaborative effort to control symptoms of a condition that dominates the lives of otherwise healthy individuals by its dramatic unpredictability," Litt said. “The potential to use our findings to help people with poorly controlled seizures world-wide is enormous.”

About 50 million people throughout the world suffer from epilepsy. Almost 25 percent have seizures that are not controlled by any available therapy.

Although epilepsy is the most common neurologic disease after stroke, its cause cannot be identified in a large percentage of cases. Recently, scientists looking for changes in the brain that predict seizures have had some success using mathematically-based chaos theory. But those studies have generally been limited in scope -- they concentrate on a period of minutes prior to seizures -- and are further limited by the difficulty of applying an abstract theory to what actually happens inside the brain.

Litt and his colleagues, on the other hand, relied on the traditional method of measuring brain activity through EEG (electroencephalograpy) readings for five epilepsy patients who were being evaluated for surgery and had therefore stopped taking anti-seizure medication. The EEG readings tracked the patients for periods ranging from four to 14 days.

Using electrodes implanted in both sides of the brain, the scientists examined "a continuous stream of data for reproducible patterns associated with seizures, and found a chain of events that predicted that seizures were going to occur," Litt said.

The researchers discovered cycles of abnormal brain activity -- epileptic discharges -- lasting 15 to 30 minutes. The discharges became more frequent over a period of hours as they led to brief, asymptomatic seizures at specific points in the brain.

Those smaller seizures triggered a steady increase in activity that spread across the brain and culminated in clinical seizures. Litt likened this cascade of events to a match striking over and over, lighting and re-lighting a fuse in the affected part of the brain. The fuse goes out and re-ignites more and more frequently, until finally it ignites the energy that leads to clinical seizures. In some of the study patients, the process lasted up to seven hours.

"This information provides a real opportunity to stop abnormal activity in epileptic brain regions before seizures develop," Litt said. Although substantial work remains before the study findings can be put to clinical use, he believes scientists may eventually be able to implant devices in the brain that will abort seizures by reacting to, and diffusing, the cycle of increasing abnormal brain activity.

Litt collaborated in the study with Rosanna Esteller; Javier Echauz, PhD; Maryann D'Alessandro; Rachel Shor; and George Vachtsevanos, PhD, all of the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with Thomas Henry, MD; Page Pennell, MD; Roy Bakay, MD, and Charles Epstein, MD, of Emory University. Marc Dichter, MD, PhD, of Penn also collaborated in the study.

Along with Vachtsevanos, Echauz and Esteller, Litt is co-founder of IntelliMedix, a company devoted to this research. The study was funded by IntelliMedix (in which Drs. Litt, Vachtsevanos, Echauz and Esteller have a financial interest), the Epilepsy Foundation, the Whittaker Foundation, the American Epilepsy Society, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "Scientists At Penn Track Epileptic Seizures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427071739.htm>.
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. (2001, April 27). Scientists At Penn Track Epileptic Seizures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427071739.htm
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "Scientists At Penn Track Epileptic Seizures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427071739.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins