Mapping Brain Networks in Childhood Epilepsy

Image Citation Source by GerryShaw used under CC by-sa 3.0
To get some of the most accurate brain activity recordings before, during and after a seizure, intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG) is typically used. This technology, where sensors are placed directly onto the exposed brain, can be helpful in identifying area(s) of connected brain cells (referred to as networks) that are important for human functions, such as language, and those responsible for seizures.

Drs. Sam Doesburg, Liz Pang and Carter Snead are using iEEG to identify brain networks that become active before, during and after a seizure. Their research has shown that brain networks are dynamic and flexible, which has required the development of new tools for accurately mapping these changes in the iEEG recordings. Identifying dynamic brain networks can provide useful information on where seizures start and what must be removed during surgery to achieve seizure freedom. It can also help to find the networks responsible for critical functions, such as language, which must be avoided during surgery.

The next steps for this research project will be to compare the brain networks measured using iEEG with the brain networks measured using non-invasive methods, like EEG where electrodes are placed on the scalp, and magnetoencephalography (MEG) where the brain's magnetic fields are detected by a helmet. This research into less invasive technologies will be very valuable, as it will enable mapping of networks without surgery - or before the decision about surgery is made - ultimately leading to better outcomes for children with drug-resistant epilepsy.

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