Epilepsy is a neurological disease that affects more than 50 million people worldwide. The seizures that accompany this condition can diminish a patient’s quality of life, and even put themselves and others around them at risk. According to some sources, the mechanisms behind the seizures are not well understood, and a variety of treatments are available but they are not always effective.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and University of California Berkeley have demonstrated a new approach to suppressing seizures. The scientists view the seizures as “a synchronized collective of waves propagating across cortical regions.” In a paper published in The Journal of Royal Society Interface, the researchers describe how they simulated a system to disrupt a seizure. When the neural wave activity is detected, the brain is exposed to ultrasonic waves in a random pattern that disrupt the seizure activity. Unlike some other approaches, the system does not have to detect the precise location of the source of the seizure. The ultrasound “breaks up” the neural waves and suppresses the seizure.
The scientists envision a hat that could contain a system to disrupt seizures. It would contain electroencephalographic (EEG) sensors and ultrasonic transducers. When the seizure activity is detected, the ultrasonic transducers would disrupt the neural waves. If it proves to be effective, this non-invasive, non-chemical treatment could provide rapid relief for patients with epilepsy.