Computers refine epilepsy treatment

Excerpt from the September 3, 1966 issue of Science News

MRI scan

COMPUTER ASSIST  Computers have become important over the last 50 years for guiding doctors to the source of a patient’s epilepsy. Here, computers record images of the brain of a person undergoing an MRI scan.

CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Site of seizures may be spotted with computer  Severe epilepsy that does not respond well to drugs may be attacked by computers in combination with surgery.… The computers would register information coming from electrodes implanted in the patient’s brain. By reading the computer, the surgeon might then be able to spot the site of “electrical storms” which cause epileptic seizures. — Science News, September 3, 1966


Computers are now a central part of surgery for epilepsy. Surgeons typically measure the electrical activity of the brain, then couple those recordings with data from MRI and CT scans. Positron emission tomography and single-photon emission CT scans may further delineate the trouble spot. These techniques require computers to record and reconstruct images. Researchers are developing virtual brains, combining many technologies to map out connections and electrical function in an individual’s brain. Doctors may one day use the computerized brains to guide treatment of epileptic patients, researchers report July 28 in NeuroImage.

Tina Hesman Saey is the senior staff writer and reports on molecular biology. She has a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University.

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