NeuroEngineering Research Lab
Approximately 1% of the world’s population (50 million people) suffers from epilepsy, with two thirds of those having recurring symptoms.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where seizures occur randomly, caused by chemically and/or electrically driven over-excitation in populations of neurons (brain cells). These seizures can impair consciousness in many ways (the most commonly known being convulsions) depending on the part of the brain that is affected. In any case their apparent randomness can significantly impair the quality of life of sufferers.
While there are many drugs and some surgeries that can be used to control epileptic seizures, 25% of epileptics cannot be treated sufficiently by any available therapy. Moreover, the exact cause of epileptic seizures in the brain is not well understood.
Our research goal is to understand the underlying causes of epilepsy from a mathematical standpoint, where interactions/signalling between neurons are studied. Mathematical modelling, signal processing and physiological experiments are all important tools to help us do this.
In the long term we want to use this understanding to develop technology that can detect, predict and intervene the generation of epileptic seizures. A physical device could then be used to deliver therapy in the form of fast acting drugs, electrical stimulus, or simply as a warning mechanism.
Advanced epileptic seizure warning methods
Researchers: David Grayden, Anthony Burkitt, Levin Kuhlmann
This project will develop epileptic seizure prediction methods, warning patients of the likelihood of an impending seizure, so that precautionary measures can be taken. Seizure prediction will be of great clinical significance as it will improve the lives of 33% of epileptic patients who have drug-resistant epilepsy, by warning of impending seizures and potentially allowing acute therapies to prevent seizures, such as electrical stimulation of the brain or targeted drug delivery.
We have a unique opportunity as a result of the first and only clinical trial of an implantable intracranial EEG monitoring system and seizure predictor developed by NeuroVista Corporation. This trial was completed in Melbourne with CI Cook as a lead investigator. Patients were implanted with the system for periods of up to 2.5 years, providing unprecedented amounts of EEG data per individual. The large amount of data means we can robustly evaluate new and existing seizure prediction methods, and quantify the effects of the diurnal cycle and EEG statistics on seizure prediction. This has not been done before.
The NeuroVista trials showed that seizure prediction is possible and useful, but further research is needed for it to work for everyone.
Our goals are:
1. Evaluate established seizure prediction methods using the unique NeuroVista dataset.
2. Develop new features to better discriminate patient-specific seizure-related time periods.
3. Use the diurnal cycle to improve seizure prediction algorithms.
4. Use iEEG statistics to better quantify long-term epilepsy changes relevant to seizure prediction.
This project will develop robust seizure prediction methods, which will have a resounding impact on the management of drug-refractory epilepsy. Our prediction methods will provide seizure warnings that will greatly reduce the anxiety and stress linked to the uncertainty of when a seizure will occur and greatly enhance the quality of life of patients.
Professor David Grayden
T: +61 3 8344 5234