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Non-Invasive Diagnostics for Epilepsy Developed

Bin He (University of Minnesota)

Bin He (University of Minnesota)

Biomedical engineers at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and medical researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota created a new type of brain scan done immediately after an epileptic seizure that can tell more about the causes of those seizures. The team led by Minnesota engineering professor Bin He (pictured right) appears online today in the journal Brain; paid subscription required.

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain marked by repeated convulsions over time. These convulsions or seizures are episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, epilepsy affects some two million people in the U.S., with more than one-third of people with epilepsy continuing to have seizures despite treatment.

Diagnosis of epilepsy is a challenge, particularly identifying the location in the brain causing the seizures, to determine appropriate treatments. Research in the past has focused on studying seizures as they happen, including the use of invasive methods such as surgery to collect data.

The Minnesota/Mayo clinic team studied the brains of 28 epilepsy patients immediately after seizures. For the study, Bin He and colleagues devised a non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) — a test to measure the electrical activity of the brain — with 76 electrodes attached to the scalp for gathering data, compared to devices in most previous studies with 32 electrodes. The higher density EEG, says He, “allowed us to tackle this research and gather several thousand data points that helped us determine our findings.”

Those findings indicate the frontal lobe of the brain is most involved in severe seizures, with seizures in the temporal lobe most common among adults. As important, the research offered a proof-of-concept that the higher-density EEG could capture important data immediately after a seizure, as well as during an event.

In the following video, He tells more about the research and the higher-density EEG device.

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