Cortical dysplasia occurs when brain cells in the cortex – the outer layer of the brain – do not develop properly. People who have cortical dysplasia often have differences in the way their brain cells are organized, and are more likely to develop drug-resistant epilepsy during their lifetime.

Due to cortical dysplasia, critical brain areas – such as those involved in movements and sensations – may also be organized differently. Therefore, it is crucial to locate these critical brain areas in each patient before seizure surgery, ensuring these areas are preserved during surgery. But what technology can help with this process?

Dr. Jorge Burneo and his colleagues at Western University are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to visualize the active brain regions in people with cortical dysplasia while they perform specific movement and sensory tasks. FMRI can show changes in blood flow in the brain and identify which brain areas are activated during specific tasks. Results from Dr. Burneo’s recent publication using fMRI show that the brain areas activated during movements and sensations are different from person to person with cortical dysplasia and may often be impaired.

With this research still ongoing, Dr. Burneo and his colleagues are currently recruiting adult participants for the study. The overall hope for this research is that it will show the importance of performing fMRI before surgery to identify which brain areas to remove and which to preserve.

We just want to wish everyone a very happy holiday and all the best for the new year! Thank you for reading EpLink’s biweekly research updates in 2016. Stay tuned for more updates starting in January 2017.

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