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Scientific Breakthroughs & Caregiver Tips
Epilepsy Brain Science
Epilepsy causes recurring, spontaneous seizures. Scientists study seizures by measuring brain waves and analyzing patterns of electrical activity in the brain.
- Seizures describe a period of abnormal, synchronized neuronal firing. The manifestation of the seizure depends on the brain region where the excitable neurons are located.
- There are many possible mechanisms that underlie epilepsy, including genetics, previous injury, and environment.
- Scientific studies have determined numerous genetic mutations that may contribute to epilepsy. These mutations promote a state of hyperexcitability in certain brain regions.
- Researchers are working on responsive neurostimulation. The pacemaker-like devices help prevent seizures by analyzing the brain’s activity. They spot seizures before they happen and deliver an electrical charge or drug to stop the seizure.
- Continuous stimulation of a particular area of the brain may improve the quality of life for some people with seizures. One promising technique is the continuous stimulation of the seizure onset zone (subthreshold stimulation).
- Personalized medicine and targeted therapies are accelerating the pace of research. Gene therapy is being studied in some types of epilepsy. Breakthroughs continue to bring hope to people with brain disorders.
Pregnant women with epilepsy taking antiepileptic medication can help researchers learn how drugs affect unborn children by participating in the Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry.
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