Links for Keyword: Epilepsy

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JoNel Aleccia TODAY When doctors told Pete and Michelle Gallagher that they wanted to remove half of their 3-year-old son’s brain, the Attica, Ohio, parents were horrified. But a new study shows the extreme procedure may offer some kids their best shot at a normal life. “We panicked,” said Pete Gallagher, recalling their reaction seven years ago. The couple also knew that the dramatic surgery known as a hemispherectomy might be the only workable option to stop the severe seizures, more than a dozen a day, that were robbing Aiden of his ability to function – and to learn. “He had forgotten his alphabet. He had forgotten how to count. It was all slipping,” the father said. Today, Aiden is a healthy, red-haired fifth-grader who goes to regular school and loves to play baseball and basketball. He hasn’t had a seizure since the rare operation, making the boy a poster child for new research that finds the procedure offers real-world success for children suffering from devastating epilepsy. “The brain has an amazing capacity to work around the function that it has lost,” said Dr. Ajay Gupta, head of pediatric epilepsy at the Cleveland Clinic. In the first large-scale study to look at the everyday capabilities of kids who undergo hemispherectomy, Gupta and his colleagues reviewed 186 operations performed at their center between 1997 and 2009 and took a close look at 115 patients. They confirmed what doctors knew, but had little practical data to support: That removing the diseased hemisphere of a seizure-prone brain allows sufferers to learn and grow and, in some cases, lead normal lives.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 18554 - Posted: 08.24.2013

Silk has walked straight off the runway and into the lab. According to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, silk implants placed in the brain of laboratory animals and designed to release a specific chemical, adenosine, may help stop the progression of epilepsy. The research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which are part of the National Institutes of Health. The epilepsies are a group of neurological disorders associated with recurring seizures that tend to become more frequent and severe over time. Adenosine decreases neuronal excitability and helps stop seizures. Earlier studies have suggested abnormally low levels of adenosine may be linked to epilepsy. Rebecca L. Williams-Karnesky, Ph.D. and her colleagues from Legacy Research Institute, Portland, Ore., Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU), Portland, and Tufts University, Boston, looked at long-term effects of an adenosine-releasing silk-implant therapy in rats and examined the role of adenosine in causing epigenetic changes that may be associated with the development of epilepsy. The investigators argue that adenosine’s beneficial effects are due to epigenetic modifications (chemical reactions that change the way genes are turned on or off without altering the DNA code, the letters that make up our genetic background). Specifically, these changes happen when a molecule known as a methyl group blocks a portion of DNA, affecting which genes are accessible and can be turned on. If methyl groups have been taken away (demethylated), genes are more likely to turn on.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 18409 - Posted: 07.27.2013

by Anil Ananthaswamy Name: Sandra Condition: Ecstatic epilepsy "It's like when you have an orgasm. You don't get to the orgasm in one step. You go progressively. [My seizure] was the same kind of thing." Sandra thinks she had her earliest epileptic seizures when she was just 4 years old. But they were no ordinary seizures. Hers gave her an intense feeling of bliss. Blissful is not how most of us think of epilepsy. Fabienne Picard at the University Hospital Geneva, in Switzerland, says Sandra experienced a form of partial seizure – one localised to a specific region of the brain – known as an ecstatic seizure. These were immortalised in literature by the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, who also had them. Dostoevsky described his seizures in a letter to a friend: "I feel entirely in harmony with myself and the whole world, and this feeling is so strong and so delightful that for a few seconds of such bliss one would gladly give up 10 years of one's life, if not one's whole life." To explain how she felt during her seizures, Sandra makes an analogy with a highly pleasurable event. "It's like when you have an orgasm," she says. "You don't get to the orgasm in one step. You go progressively. [The seizure] was the same kind of thing." However, "it was not a sexual feeling", she says. "It was more psychological." © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 18298 - Posted: 06.22.2013

by Sara Reardon People with epilepsy have to learn to cope with the unpredictable nature of seizures – but that could soon be a thing of the past. A new brain implant can warn of seizures minutes before they strike, enabling them to get out of situations that could present a safety risk. Epileptic seizures are triggered by erratic brain activity. The seizures last for seconds or minutes, and their unpredictability makes them hazardous and disruptive for people with epilepsy, says Mark Cook of the University of Melbourne in Australia. Like earthquakes, "you can't stop them, but if you knew when one was going to happen, you could prepare", he says. With funding from NeuroVista, a medical device company in Seattle, Cook and his colleagues have developed a brain implant to do just that. The device consists of a small patch of electrodes that measure brain wave activity. Warning light Over time, the device's software learns which patterns of brainwave activity indicate that a seizure is about to happen. When it detects such a pattern, the implant then transmits a signal through a wire to a receiver implanted under the wearer's collarbone. This unit alerts the wearer by wirelessly activating a handheld gadget with coloured lights – a red warning light, for example, signals that a seizure is imminent. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 18107 - Posted: 05.02.2013

by Anil Ananthaswamy, A YOUNG man lies unconscious on the table, his head clamped firmly in place. His eyes are closed. The hair over his left temple has been shaved. I'm in the operating room at University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland with neurologist Thomas Grunwald, who has diagnosed 22-year-old Jeremy Künzler with drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy. His symptoms during fits suggest that the seizures begin in the left temporal lobe. Often, this condition can only be treated by surgically removing the errant brain tissue. Unfortunately, brain scans have revealed nothing that would point to the source of Künzler's seizures – no obvious tumour, scar or lesion. In ordinary circumstances, Künzler would have to undergo exploratory brain surgery. But instead of this drastic operation, Grunwald is pioneering a technique to pinpoint the problem area. He has asked neurosurgeon Niklaus Krayenbühl to implant electrodes inside Künzler's skull: a grid electrode over his left temporal lobe, and two strip electrodes beneath the left and right lobes, used to monitor activity bilaterally in the hippocampi and amygdalae. Once they are in place, Grunwald will record brain signals in real time during seizures and use the information to try to identify the epileptogenic tissue. It's my first time inside an operating room. I'm anxious, as I have been told not to touch a thing for fear of contamination, especially the giant surgical microscope covered in clear, sterile plastic. "The nurses are very strict," says Grunwald. "If you touch this, even with your head, they get really angry." © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 17953 - Posted: 03.27.2013

The number of children being diagnosed with epilepsy has dropped dramatically in the UK over the past decade, figures show. A study of GP-recorded diagnoses show the incidence has fallen by as much as half. Researchers said fewer children were being misdiagnosed, but there had also been a real decrease in some causes of the condition. Other European countries and the US had reported similar declines, they added. Epilepsy is caused when the brain's normal electrical activity result in seizures. Data from more than 344,000 children showed that the annual incidence of epilepsy has fallen by 4-9% year on year between 1994 and 2008. Overall the number of children born between 2003-2005 with epilepsy was 33% lower then those born in 1994-96. When researchers looked in more detail and included a wider range of possible indicators of an epilepsy diagnosis the incidence dropped by 47%. Correct diagnosis Better use of specialist services and increased caution over diagnosing the condition explains some, but not all, of the decline in the condition, the researchers reported in Archives of Diseases in Childhood. Introduction of vaccines against meningitis and a drop in the number of children with traumatic brain injuries, both of which can cause epilepsy, has probably also contributed to falling cases, they added. BBC © 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17751 - Posted: 02.04.2013

The number of seizure patients in a northern Japanese fishing community devastated by the March 11, 2011 tsunami spiked in the weeks following the disaster, according to a Japanese study. The study, published in the journal Epilepsia, looked at 440 patient records from Kesennuma City Hospital, in a city that was devastated by the massive tsunami touched off by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Thirteen patients were admitted with seizures in the eight weeks after the disaster, but only one had been admitted in the two months before March 11. Previous research has linked stressful life-threatening disasters with an increased risk of seizures, but most case reports lacked clinical data with multiple patients. "We suggest that stress associated with life-threatening situations may enhance seizure generation," wrote lead author Ichiyo Shibahara, a staff neurosurgeon at Sendai Medical Center in northern Japan. But he added that stress itself is not a universal risk factor for seizures. "Most of the seizure patients had some sort of neurological disease before the earthquake," he said. His team examined medical records from patients admitted to the neurosurgery ward in the eight weeks before and after the March 11 disaster and compared them to the same time period each year between 2008 and 2010. In 2008, there were 11 seizure patients admitted between January 14 and May 15. In 2009, there were seven and in 2010, just four. © 2013 NBCNews.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17705 - Posted: 01.22.2013

A strong family history of seizures could increase the chances of having severe migraines, says a study in Epilepsia journal. Scientists from Columbia University, New York, analysed 500 families containing two or more close relatives with epilepsy. Their findings could mean that genes exist that cause both epilepsy and migraine. Epilepsy Action said it could lead to targeted treatments. Previous studies have shown that people with epilepsy are substantially more likely than the general population to have migraine headaches, but it was not clear whether that was due to a shared genetic cause. The researchers found that people with three or more close relatives with a seizure disorder were more than twice as likely to experience 'migraine with aura' than patients from families with fewer individuals with seizures. Migraine with aura is a severe headache preceded by symptoms such as seeing flashing lights, temporary visual loss, speech problems or numbness of the face. Dr Melodie Winawer, lead author of the study from Columbia University Medical Centre, said the findings had implications for epilepsy patients. "Our study demonstrates a strong genetic basis for migraine and epilepsy, because the rate of migraine is increased only in people who have close (rather than distant) relatives with epilepsy." BBC © 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 8: General Principles of Sensory Processing, Touch, and Pain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 17657 - Posted: 01.07.2013

A substance made by the body when it uses fat as fuel could provide a new way of treating epilepsy, experts hope. Researchers in London who have been carrying out preliminary tests of the fatty acid treatment, report their findings in Neuropharmacology journal. They came up with the idea because of a special diet used by some children with severe, drug resistant epilepsy to help manage their condition. The ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrate. The high fat, low carbohydrate diet is thought to mimic aspects of starvation by forcing the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Although often effective, the diet has attracted criticism, as side-effects can be significant and potentially lead to constipation, hypoglycaemia, retarded growth and bone fractures. By pinpointing fatty acids in the ketogenic diet that are effective in controlling epilepsy, researchers hope they can develop a pill for children and adults that could provide similar epilepsy control without the side-effects. In early trials, the scientists, from Royal Holloway and University College London, say they have identified fatty acids that look like good candidates for the job. They found that not only did some of the fatty acids outperform a regular epilepsy medication called valproate in controlling seizures in animals, they also had fewer side-effects. BBC © 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 17533 - Posted: 11.24.2012

By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News Adding "calm down" genes to hyperactive brain cells has completely cured rats of epilepsy for the first time, say UK researchers. They believe their approach could help people who cannot control their seizures with drugs. The study, published in the journal Science Translation Medicine, used a virus to insert the new genes into a small number of neurons. About 50 million people have epilepsy worldwide. However, drugs do not work for up to 30% of them. The alternatives include surgery to remove the part of the brain that triggers a fit or to use electrical stimulation. The brain is alive with electrical communication with individual neurons primed to fire off new messages. However, if a group of neurons become too excited they can throw the whole system into chaos leading to an epileptic seizure. Researchers at University College London have developed two ways of manipulating the behaviour of individual cells inside the brain in order to prevent those seizures. Both use viruses injected into the brain to add tiny sections of DNA to the genetic code of just a few thousand neurons. One method boosts the brain cells' natural levels of inhibition in order to calm them down. This treatment is a form of gene therapy, a field which is often criticised for failing to deliver on decades of promise. BBC © 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 17482 - Posted: 11.13.2012

Seizures during childhood fever are usually benign, but when prolonged, they can foreshadow an increased risk of epilepsy later in life. Now a study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests that brain imaging and recordings of brain activity could help identify the children at highest risk. The study reveals that within days of a prolonged fever-related seizure, some children have signs of acute brain injury, abnormal brain anatomy, altered brain activity, or a combination. "Our goal has been to develop biomarkers that will tell us whether or not a particular child is at risk for epilepsy. This could in turn help us develop strategies to prevent the disorder," said study investigator Shlomo Shinnar, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Shinnar is a professor of neurology, pediatrics and epidemiology and the Hyman Climenko Professor of Neuroscience Research at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City. Seizures that occur during the course of a high fever, known as febrile seizures, affect 3 to 4 percent of all children. Most such children recover rapidly and do not suffer long-term health consequences. However, having one or more prolonged febrile seizures in childhood is known to increase the risk of subsequent epilepsy. Some experts estimate that the risk of later epilepsy is 30-40 percent following febrile status epilepticus (FSE), a seizure or series of seizures that can last from 30 minutes to several hours. "While the majority of children fully recover from febrile status epilepticus, some will go on to develop epilepsy. We have no way of knowing yet who they will be," Dr. Shinnar said.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17469 - Posted: 11.08.2012

by Douglas Heaven The versatile cannabis plant may have a new use: it could be used to control epileptic seizures with fewer side effects than currently prescribed anti-convulsants. Ben Whalley at the University of Reading, UK, and colleagues worked with GW Pharmaceuticals in Wiltshire, UK, to investigate the anti-convulsant properties of cannabidivarin (CBDV), a little-studied chemical found in cannabis and some other plants. There is "big, historical, anecdotal evidence" that cannabinoids can be used to control human seizures, says Whalley, but the "side-effect baggage" means there have been relatively few studies of its pharmaceutical effect on this condition. The team investigated the effectiveness of CBDV – one of around 100 non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in cannabis – as an anti-convulsant. They induced seizures in live rats and mice that had been given the drug. These animals experienced less severe seizures and lower mortality compared with animals given a placebo. The drug also had fewer side effects and was better tolerated than three of the most widely prescribed anticonvulsants. Epileptic seizures affect about one per cent of the population. Left uncontrolled, they can lead to depression, cognitive decline and death. If you control the seizures, says Whalley, "the chances of death drop away completely". The decision about whether to test the drug in humans will be made next year. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 17255 - Posted: 09.13.2012

By Karen Weintraub Paul Barney had his first seizure four days after his fourth birthday. By the time he was 10, his mom worried that if they didn’t get the seizures under control soon, he might lose IQ points along with his ready smile. When Brian Manning, 11, had a seizure on the school playground – instead of in his bed as usual – his parents knew it was time for drastic action. He’d already had brain surgery once, but doctors said he might need five or six more operations. Or he could have one, to completely remove the right half of his brain. Both boys have epilepsy and recently underwent surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. And both represent the promise and frustration of epilepsy treatment today. Patients have more options, and there is more awareness, less stigma, and a better understanding of epilepsy than there has ever been. But available medications can’t control seizures in about one-third of patients, including Paul and Brian, and while surgery is safer, it still comes with high risks. It also remains unclear what causes the electrical disturbance in patients’ brains that triggers seizures. Roughly 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy at some point in life – more than will have autism, AIDS, or Parkinson’s disease. Some patients do fine between seizures and can function normally. In others, their brains are constantly being disrupted, like a radio station filled with static, according to Dr. Blaise Bourgeois the director of the Division of Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology at Boston Children’s. © 2012 NY Times Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 17156 - Posted: 08.13.2012

Duncan Graham-Rowe A skull implant that can detect an epileptic seizure and deliver therapeutic electrical impulses can reduce the length of these events by 60% in rats. The device, tested on nine rats with a ‘petit mal’ form of epilepsy, is described today in Science1. Most electrical stimulation devices, such as those that deliver deep-brain stimulation (DBS) to treat Parkinson’s disease and depression, operate continuously, delivering impulses regardless of the patient’s brain activity. But this can cause a range of undesirable side effects, such as headaches. Seizure-responsive versions of DBS devices are coming to market, such as the Responsive Neurostimulator System developed by NeuroPace, based in Mountain View, California. The system is awaiting approval by the US Food and Drug Administration and will be aimed at adults with certain types of partial-onset seizures, which tend to be localized to certain regions of the brain. But as the name implies, DBS uses electrodes that penetrate the brain, which can also carry certain risks, such as a worsening of epilepsy symptoms. In the latest study, György Buzsáki, a neuroscientist at the New York University School of Medicine, and his colleagues used a less invasive approach that involves transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) of neurons using electrodes implanted in the skull. This technique has been shown to be effective at modifying the brain's cortical (outermost) neurons, which become abnormally excited during epileptic seizures. To detect the onset of a seizure, recording electrodes that detect neural activity were implanted on the brain's surface. © 2012 Nature Publishing Group,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 17148 - Posted: 08.11.2012

By Justin Moyer, On June 9, Commerce Secretary John Bryson was hospitalized after his reported involvement in three auto accidents. Although details were not disclosed, the White House confirmed that he had a seizure. On July 30, 2007, Chief Justice John Roberts collapsed on a boat dock at his Maine summer home. Although that seizure was Roberts’s second, he offered little explanation. When Time magazine asked “Does Justice Roberts Have Epilepsy?,” Roberts didn’t answer, and he hasn’t in five years. Reading these stories, I wish public figures such as Roberts and Bryson would talk publicly about their conditions. They should do this not because they are legally compelled to or because their health may affect their work. They should do it because hiding their problems makes it seem like their problems are worth hiding. I received a diagnosis of epilepsy in 2001, at age 24. My seizures are generalized, meaning they strike my whole brain and body. Without warning, I lose consciousness for several minutes and remain disoriented for a few hours. Later, I have no memory of the episode save muscle aches and a sore mouth from biting my tongue. My seizures are idiopathic: They have no known cause. They can be controlled with levetiracetam, a medication that regulates brain neurotransmitters. © 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 16930 - Posted: 06.19.2012

By ALASTAIR GEE In November 2008, when he was just 6, William Moller had his first epileptic seizure, during a reading class at school. For about 20 seconds, he simply froze in place, as if someone had pressed a pause button. He could not respond to his teacher. This is known as an absence seizure, and over the next year William, now 10, who lives with his family in Brooklyn, went from having one or two a day to suffering constant seizures. Not all were absence seizures; others were frightening tonic-clonics, also known as grand mals, during which he lost consciousness and convulsed. The seizures often came while he was eating. As his body went rigid, William dropped his food and his eyes rolled back into their sockets. If he seized while standing, he suddenly crashed to the ground — in a corridor, in the driveway, on the stairs. “It’s the scariest thing for any mother to hear that thump, and each time he would hit his head, so it only made things worse and worse,” said his mother, Elisa Moller, a pediatric nurse. William is among the one-third of epilepsy sufferers who do not respond, or respond only poorly, to anti-epileptic medications. Now he and others with refractory epilepsy are benefiting from treatment that targets inflammation, the result of new research into how epilepsy damages the brain. “Many of us theorize that the two are tied — inflammation causes seizures, and seizures cause inflammation,” said Orrin Devinsky, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the New York University Langone Medical Center and William’s doctor. “Over time, both of them may feed off each other.” © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16873 - Posted: 06.05.2012

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR Surgery for epilepsy is usually seen as a last resort for patients when medications do not work, and it is often delayed for many years after the failure of drug treatment. Now a randomized, controlled trial suggests that surgery as soon as possible after the failure of two antiepileptic drugs is a significantly better approach than continued medical care. Previous studies have shown that patients referred for surgery have had epilepsy for an average of 22 years, and are referred on average more than 10 years after the use of two drugs has failed to stop the seizures. People with continued seizures are at increased risk for drowning and other accidents, depression, progressive loss of memory, and, in younger people, a failure to develop vocational and social skills. Their risk of death is 10 times as high as that of the general population. Researchers studied a group of 38 epilepsy patients, randomly assigning 15 to brain surgery and 23 to continued medical treatment. The surgery involves the removal of a piece of tissue about the size of a walnut from the temporal lobe, the part of the brain just above the ear. The surgery has been performed for many years, but the institution of high-resolution M.R.I. and microsurgical techniques have greatly improved its safety and efficacy. The patients in both groups were similar in age, duration of epilepsy, the number of antiepileptic drugs used and the number of seizures they had had. All had been taking drugs for one to two years without relief. The participants were seen at the study site every three months for two years after the start of the study. A group of specialists who did not know which patients had had surgery evaluated them for seizure type and severity as recorded in patient diaries. The study appears in the March 7 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 16507 - Posted: 03.13.2012

By Sandra G. Boodman, “Men in Black” was flickering on the screen, and Laura Cossolotto and her husband were enjoying a rare night at the movies in their home town of Centerville, Iowa, when her brother-in-law rushed into the darkened theater. The couple’s third child, 6-month-old Michaela, had just suffered a serious seizure and was at a nearby hospital. As Cossolotto raced to be with the baby, she immediately remembered that Michaela had been running a fever after receiving a vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) three days earlier. “I thought the shot must have something to do with it,” Cossolotto recalled. “I had three kids, and nothing like this had ever happened, so what else could it have been?” At the hospital, doctors reassured her that Michaela had suffered a febrile seizure, a frightening and usually harmless event they said was unlikely to recur. As a precaution, the baby was admitted for observation. Hours later, after doctors had trouble controlling a second, more severe seizure, the infant was whisked by helicopter to a larger hospital in Des Moines, 100 miles north. That night in July 1997 marked the beginning of a 101 / 2-year ordeal, as more than a dozen specialists in four states tried without success to find an underlying cause for Michaela’s frequent, in­trac­table seizures — and a treatment that would control them before they caused irreparable brain damage or death. © 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16327 - Posted: 01.31.2012

By Brian Alexander “Laughing seizures” have long been one of the mysteries surrounding epilepsy. During an event, an epileptic suffering a laughing seizure can guffaw, sometimes hysterically, but certainly not because he or she finds anything funny. Now a new study published in the journal Brain, from a team led by Josef Parvizi of Stanford University, has helped clear up some of the mystery. Earlier research traced these events, more formally called gelastic seizures, to abnormal clumps of neurons in the hypothalamus called hamartomas. “The hamartomas start firing on their own and cause the seizures,” Parvizi explained. But exactly where in the hypothalamus are gelastic seizure-related hamartomas located? That answer’s important because the hypothalamus has several regions, or nuclei, that manage input and create output related to a variety of body functions like temperature regulation, sexual behavior and hormone release. Parvizi likens it to a college campus. “Just like a campus, you have different buildings and every department has its own students and own connections,” he said. In looking at 100 cases of children with gelastic seizures who’ve had their brains imaged, Parvizi and his colleagues were able to show that in every case the hamartoma lesions were located in a region known as the mammillary bodies. (They don’t have anything to do with breasts. They just sort of look like breasts and the neuroscientists who first described them were men, so there you go.) © 2011 msnbc.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16111 - Posted: 12.06.2011

Glioma, one of the most deadly and common types of brain tumor, is often associated with seizures, but the origins of these seizures and effective treatments for them have been elusive. Now a team funded by the National Institutes of Health has found that human gliomas implanted in mice release excess levels of the brain chemical glutamate, overstimulating neurons near the tumor and triggering seizures. The researchers also found that sulfasalazine, a drug on the market for treating certain inflammatory disorders, can reduce seizures in mice with glioma. About 80 percent of people with glioma will experience at least one seizure during their illness, often as the first symptom. About one-third of patients will develop recurring seizures, known as tumor-associated epilepsy. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., whose death was caused by a malignant glioma in August 2009, was diagnosed after having a seizure 15 months earlier. "Seizures are a frequent symptom of glioma and are often poorly controlled by epilepsy medications," said Jane Fountain, Ph.D., a program director at NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). "Understanding why the seizures occur and how to counteract them could help us substantially improve the quality of life for people with glioma." "People have assumed that tumors cause seizures by irritating the brain, but that really isn't a scientific explanation. We have now shown that the seizures are caused by glutamate release from the tumor," said Harald Sontheimer, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology and director of the Center for Glial Biology in Medicine at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB). Dr. Sontheimer and his team published their results in Nature Medicine.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 15793 - Posted: 09.13.2011