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Thursday, January 10, 2008

 

Earthquakes may hold clues for treatment of epilepsy

‘Earthquake-prediction techniques could help develop a way to forecast epileptic seizures, according to research which found striking similarities between the electrical activity in the brain before and during seizures and seismological data around earthquakes.

Both are usually preceded by small, barely detectable tremors and, as with an earthquake, the longer it has been since a seizure, the longer it will be until the next one. According to scientists, these shared features mean that the patterns are not random and could even be governed by similar mathematical rules.

Epilepsy comprises a set of conditions which disrupt the electrical activity in the brain and the main symptoms are recurrent, unprovoked seizures. It is one of the most common long-term neurological disorders, affecting 456,000 people in the UK and around 50 million worldwide.

The condition can often be controlled by drugs that damp down the brain’s electrical activity, although surgery to remove the affected part of the brain is sometimes used in the most hard-to-treat cases.’




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