Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

Observed Brain Activity Occuring in Absence Epilepsy

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Oct 4, 2019

Autism, kid looking far away without interesting

Recent research coming from Cardiff University has found “brain activity that underlies absence epilepsy.” This discovery has the potential to provide a new array of therapies that can help with this type of disease.  

Absence epilepsy is quite common in children and teens. It can cause episodes where the patient appears to be daydreaming or “zoning out." Until recent research, there was little understanding of this type of epilepsy, but now scientists have observed the activity.

Research into Absence Epilepsy

A team from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, led by Professor Vincenzo Crunelli, studied the electrical activity that was occurring in the brains of mice as they were suffering from an absence seizure.

The professor went on to say, “Although the origin of absence epilepsy remains poorly understood, we do know that if we monitor the electrical activity in the brain during a seizure, we see peaks in the activity called spike and wave discharges."

"We also know that synchronous activity in a part of the brain called the thalamocortical network, which is organized in a feedback loop, underlies the appearance of these spike-wave discharges."

"But the relationship between the brain cell activities in this loop, and how these relationships lead to the brain activity in absence seizures, is strongly debated.”

The researchers, who were made up of individuals from Cardiff University, the University of Malta, the University of Szeged, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientific were able to record the brain activity of several areas of the brain at the same time during absence seizures. This was the first time they were able to do this.

This allowed for research and identification of the relationships that existed between the various parts of the brain when it was undergoing one of these seizures. They also “found that it played a role in the presence of the spike and wave discharges.”

Professor Crunelli also said, “We discovered that the activity of the thalamocortical brain cells were synchronized by other parts of the brain, increasing activity when receiving instruction from the cortex and decreasing activity when instructed by a part of the brain called the thalamic reticular nucleus."

“We also uncovered that, contrary to what was previously thought, the properties of the cells in the thalamocortical loop aren't really involved in the development of the spike and wave discharges."

“This work is the first time this network activity has been observed during absence seizures in models of epilepsy and puts an end to long-lasting controversies in the development of these spike-wave discharges."

“This new research is fundamental for the development of innovative therapies for this disabling childhood and juvenile disease.”

What Does the Research Mean?

Although this was landmark research that marks the first time that these seizures were observed in this manner, it should also be stressed that the research is still in the early stages, as far as making progress on the disease. Having a better understanding of how absence seizures work, will hopefully start to provide more insight into what can be done to help those patients who are suffering.

It is important for parents who may believe that their child suffers from too much daydreaming and not paying attention to have their child examined. While it might not be absence seizures causing the issue, it is always better to be safe with these situations rather than sorry.





Topics: Pediatric Epilepsy