Discovery of neurons could help improve treatment for epilepsy

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Scientists have found that the way neurons are connected in the brain could provide a better indication of disease progression and lead to better treatment results for brain disorders such as epilepsy.

A group of scientists, led by Dr Marcus Kaiser of the School of Medicine of the University of Nottingham, examined patients with epilepsy undergoing surgery, finding that changes in the local network in regions of the brain may be a better predictor of disease progression, as well as the success of surgery.

For the study, which was published in Human brain mapping, the Nottingham researchers, Newcastle, Qingdao, Shanghai, and Munich The universities, with the company Biomax, evaluated the scans of 33 patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and 36 control subjects.

Connectivity in the brain

The team found that examining connectivity in brain regions showed superior results than the current approach, which only observes fiber optic connectivity between brain regions.

By dividing the surface of the brain into 50,000 network nodes of comparable size, each region of the brain could be studied as a local network of 100 to 500 nodes, which showed distinct changes compared to a control group not suffering from seizures. epilepsy.

The team demonstrated that fibers within and between regions of the brain are suppressed for patients, but they found that connectivity within regions was a better predictor of the success of surgical removal of brain tissue in prevention of future crises.

Dr Kaiser, professor of neuroinformatics at the University of Nottingham, says: “When a person has a seizure, it ‘spreads’ through the brain. We have found that local network changes have occurred for regions along the main routes of seizure spread. Importantly, regions far from the starting point of the crisis, for example in the opposite cerebral hemisphere, were involved.

“This indicates that increased brain activity during seizures results in changes in a wide range of brain regions. In addition, the longer the patients suffered, the more the regions exhibited local changes and the more severe these changes. “

Project partners used the NeuroXM â„¢ knowledge management platform to develop a knowledge model for high-resolution connectivity with over 50,000 cortical nodes and several million connections and the corresponding automated processing pipelines accessible through the product. of Biomax NICARA â„¢ neuroimaging.

Project leader Dr Markus Butz-Ostendorf, Biomax, said: “Our software can be easily used in hospitals and can also be combined with other types of data from genetics or other research approaches. ‘imaging such as PET, computed tomography or EEG. “

Professor Yanjiang Wang, who is one of the corresponding authors, and Ms. Xue Chen, both from China University of Petroleum (East China), said, “Local connectivity was not only better in the overall forecast, but she was particularly successful in identifying patients where surgery was not performed. lead to an improvement, identifying 95% of these cases versus 90% when using connectivity between regions. “

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