Epilepsy is an extremely mysterious brain disorder. Scientists have been studying it for many decades. At the moment, there is no cure for the diagnosis, and many have no idea what its origin is. In more recent years, researchers have discovered many ways to treat the diagnosis, but have been unsuccessful in curing the disorder altogether.
Epilepsy is commonly regarded as a neurological disorder and affects over three million Americans. There are many symptoms that are associated with this disorder, though the most commonly known is seizures. Typically, seizures are caused by either an excess of certain proteins within the brain or depletion of certain proteins. Medicine is able to interact with these proteins, successfully preventing the occurrence of seizures.
Even though this option is great for some patients, it is not always able to prevent seizures. Because each of our brains is extremely different, each type of medicine interacts differently. This means that some medications might work for one group of people but will not work on others.
Seizure prevention is very inconsistent, and it is a huge goal of researchers to solve this problem. Some scientists have decided to focus on treating the disorder altogether, while others have thought to come up with different ways to live safely with the disorder.
This disorder also comes with many different anxieties around everyday life. While epilepsy itself cannot cause death, many times the onset of seizures can put people in unknowingly dangerous situations. Curing the disorder, or discovering a way to anticipate seizures, is an ideal goal.
Being able to detect seizures can significantly change peoples’ lives for the better. For example, a detection device that can alert someone when they will be having seizures can prevent injury or even death. This will prevent patients from putting themselves in dangerous situations, for instance driving a car when they know they are about to have a seizure.
Research and Findings
Professor Dr. Carola Haas leads a team of scientists at the Department of Neurosurgery. These researchers, from the University of Freiburg and the BrainLinks – BrainTools research center have been studying a new approach to prevent seizures.
This team has been focusing on preventing seizures in those who have been diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. This specific type of epilepsy is diagnosed in those who commonly have seizures that occur in the temporal lobe in the brain.
In this study, a team of researchers used mice to gather data on low-frequency stimulation in the brain. They discovered that this specific type of stimulation could completely stop epileptic seizures. They stimulated the brains with a frequency of one hertz, and the epileptic brain activity completely stopped.
The team discovered that instead of the epileptic brain activity spreading, the low-frequency stimulation prevented the spread of certain cells, therefore halting any seizure-like brain activity. The different brain regions of the mice were only stimulated for one hour each day. This is a breakthrough study that will surely lead to many more discoveries in the future.
Dr. Haas and her team of researchers at the University of Freiburg plan to use magnetic resonance imaging so that they will be able to observe all parts of the brain during low-frequency stimulation. The technique that they are perfecting will be able to identify other brain regions that might respond to this type of stimulation.
In the future, they hope to realize how different areas of the brain are corresponding to each other during different stimulations, and how they are able to work together to improve the brain function during certain epileptic activity.