Epileptic seizures may be predictable

11:07am, May 2, 2001

People with epilepsy typically lead peaceful lives in the days and hours between their seizures. However, the calm they experience before the mental storms may not be so tranquil after all.

Patterns of mild electrical disturbance in the brains of epilepsy patients seem to foreshadow a seizure hours before its onset, reports a group of neurobiologists and electrical engineers. If the findings are confirmed, they may lead to devices that would theoretically predict seizures and even halt them before they begin, suggest the researchers in the April Neuron.

Fifty million people around the world–roughly 1 in 100–live with epilepsy. It's characterized by erratic discharges of electrical activity in the brain. These seizures can set off violent spasms and cause a person to lose consciousness (SN: 6/3/00, p. 384).

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