Monday, August 22, 2011

Researchers identify possible trigger point of epileptic seizures

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a brain-circuit defect that triggers absence seizures, the most common form of childhood epilepsy.

In a study published online Aug. 21 in Nature Neuroscience, the investigators showed for the first time how defective signaling between two key brain areas — the cerebral cortex and the thalamus — can produce, in experimental mice, both the intermittent, brief loss of consciousness and the roughly three-times-per-second brain oscillations that characterize absence seizures in children. Young patients may spontaneously experience these seizures up to hundreds of times per day, under quite ordinary circumstances.

The new findings may lead to a better understanding of how ordinary, waking, sensory experiences can ignite seizures, said John Huguenard, PhD, the study’s senior author.

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