Electroencephalography (EEG) allows doctors to measure brain activity before, during and after a seizure. This technology can also be used to identify area(s) of connected brain cells (referred to as networks) that are important for human functions, such as language.

The most accurate way to identify and map brain networks involved in seizures is by using intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG), where electrodes (sensors) are surgically implanted into the brain. However, iEEG is invasive and can only record brain activity where the electrodes are implanted – so less invasive, more widespread recording options are needed.

Drs. Sam Doesburg, Liz Pang and Carter Snead’s research program has used iEEG to identify brain networks that become active before, during and after a seizure. Their research has shown that brain networks are dynamic and so, they have developed special tools for mapping these changes in the iEEG recordings. Identifying these dynamic brain networks can provide useful information for 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 phase of this research will compare the brain networks measured using iEEG with the brain networks measured using non-invasive methods, such as an EEG where electrodes are placed on the scalp and magnetoencephalography (MEG) where the brain’s magnetic fields are measured. This research into less invasive technologies will be very valuable, as it will enable mapping of networks without surgery or before the decision about brain surgery is made, ultimately leading to better outcomes for children with drug-resistant epilepsy.

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