The Brain Monitoring and Modulation group aims to develop approaches/technologies that monitor and change brain activity to stop seizures. Monitoring activities address the fundamental problem of how to localize and detect seizure activity using scalp electroencephalography (EEG) and intracranial EEG (iEEG). This theme includes both clinical and pre-clinical studies. Pre-clinical research studies include the development of animal models of epilepsy, micro-electrodes, wireless technology, and algorithms. This includes experimental testing, as well as continuous refinement and validation of models and innovative technologies.
Using electrical patterns of brain activity, EpLink researchers have been working to identify “biomarkers”, or indicators, of seizure activity that can help detect seizures before they happen. This has led to the development of a tiny chip that can be placed in the brains of people with uncontrolled seizures. The chip will monitor brain activity in real-time and look for patterns that suggest a seizure is about to occur. When a seizure is detected, the chip will stimulate the brain area, stopping the seizure before any symptoms are noticed.
While there have been many attempts to use brain stimulation to stop seizures in the past, the chip this team is designing is different in two important ways. First, while many brain stimulators are continuously active, this chip triggers stimulation only when a seizure is likely to occur, which prevents unnecessary stimulation. In addition, this chip will learn the unique patterns of brain activity that are seen leading up to a seizure using much more powerful computing methods than the ones used in currently available devices, which should greatly improve its ability to sense when seizures are about to occur.
Phase 3 of EpLink research will see further patenting of software and hardware technologies, and the initiation of clinical trials of the implanted chips and stimulation paradigms in outpatients.
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