How does stimulation of the senses affect the way epileptic seizures spread across the brain? Final Report

Posted Nov 15 2018 in News from Epilepsy Research UK

This is the final report from a 2015 project grant for £147,758 awarded to Dr Jason Berwick, Dr Samuel Harris, Professor Ying Zheng, and Professor Theodore Schwartz at the University of Sheffield. 

Epileptic seizures can start in a small part of the brain before quickly spreading to others, but very little is known about how or why. Finding where seizures begin in the brain is important so that patients that aren’t helped by medication can be treated. Studying the way seizures spread is also important for learning how a person can feel and act during seizures.

The researchers tested the idea that sensory stimulation in a rodent model of epilepsy can make seizures that start in different parts of the brain spread more easily to those that receive information from whiskers. The results show that stimulation of the whisker did not enhance the way seizures spread across the brain.

This finding is interesting because it was unexpected. Moving forward it will allow researchers to test other important ideas and develop new treatments. Our work has helped us to understand how and when seizures spread across the brain. This could help improve treatments that control and prevent seizures.

Dr Berwick said: “This grant helped transform my laboratory from doing largely basic science to one that is actively researching new methods and technologies that can be translated into new treatments for epilepsy.

During this project I met people affected by epilepsy for the first time. It was a humbling experience and really made me aware of the efforts people go to raise funds for such a worthy cause. My job is to not let them down.”

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