Vladimir Maksimenko, an employee of the Laboratory of Neuroscience and Cognitive Technologies of the Competence Center of the National Technology Initiative told that in the near future it will be possible to create a device that predicts an epileptic seizure. This will allow the person to prepare for the attack while keeping themselves and those around them safe.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder with sudden onset of seizures associated with abnormal activity in the brain. With the help of a seizure, the brain “sheds” excess stress. According to the World Health Organization, more than 50 million people in the world suffer from epilepsy today, that is, about one hundredth of the total population.
Epileptic seizures can occur due to traumatic brain injury and previous brain infection, due to a tumor in the brain or stroke.
A seizure can also occur in healthy people if the irritant is very strong. For example, an episode of the Pokémon series “Electronic Warrior Porygon” provoked seizures and vision problems in hundreds of Japanese children and adolescents. According to doctors, a sharp change in colors in the frame provoked convulsions, loss of consciousness and other symptoms in some of the audience that are characteristic of people with diagnosed epilepsy. Some of these manifestations do not necessarily indicate the presence of epilepsy in the victim as such – rather, it is a signal that such a disorder may occur in the future.
Can a seizure be predicted?
There are two types of epilepsy – caused by genetic disorders and by strong external stimuli. If in the second case, the person knows approximately what can provoke an attack, in the first case, it can be spontaneous.
In such cases, the attack often begins suddenly, both for others and for the patient himself. A second ago, a person no different from other people falls to the ground and begins to convulse due to muscle cramps.
However, scientists believe that seizures can at least be predictable.
Vladimir Maksimenko said that the team analyzed the brain signals that were recorded in laboratory rats during epileptic seizures. It turned out that the attack occurs spontaneously, but it is preceded by a phase of certain activity of the brain neurons. This discovery made it possible to obtain complete information about how a specific area of the brain functions.
Epileptic seizures in humans develop in a similar way, the mechanism of occurrence is similar to that of animals. This makes it possible to develop interfaces for people who will warn that an attack will begin in the near future and a person should prepare. Now scientists are conducting research work in conjunction with a number of leading medical research centers.
A method has already been worked out in animals that not only predicts, but also prevents an attack. The method is based on blocking the pathological activity of the brain using electrical stimulation. However, such technology is not yet planned to be used in humans.