Science Diary: Frontiers of the Brain – Understanding Epilepsy

Ambience: Neuron chatter

“And we’d really like to know why these neurons are overactive, why they’re hyperactive, and why they lead to these electrical seizures of activity that occur in this section of brain tissue.”

Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries – a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. John Beggs is a Biophysicist at Indiana University. As he looks for causes and cures of epileptic seizures, John is studying the interactions between, and organization of, neurons brain cells. Right now we’re listening to a recording of electrical impulses being sent between neurons.

“So later today we’re going to have a neurosurgeon from Indianapolis visit us for lunch and we’ll show her around the lab and talk about plans for our collaborative project. She’s the one who allows us to take some of the tissue from human patients that is damaged. It’s going to be removed anyway during her neurosurgeries and this is tissue that’s near a tumor or that’s damaged by a tumor, or it’s epileptic, and so we slice it up and bring it down to Bloomington, and then we record from it. And so far we’ve had two successful recordings. We got some very good data. It was active for about an hour-and-a-half, the tissue was. So it was wonderful. What’s really good about this tissue is that it allows us to look at a network of neurons that are right in the center of an epileptic focus. And we’d really like to know why these neurons are overactive, and why they lead to these electrical seizures of activity that occur in this section of brain tissue. Then maybe that’ll lead us toward understanding how we might prevent epilepsy or at least ameliorate its effects in people who have it.”

You can check out John Begg’s blog at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Frontiers of the Brain - Understanding Epilepsy

When a group of neurons are overactive, it causes a seizure. By learning more about how neurons work, John Beggs hopes to find a cure for disorders such as epilepsy.
Air Date:11/23/2010
Scientist:
Transcript:

Ambience: Neuron chatter

"And we'd really like to know why these neurons are overactive, why they're hyperactive, and why they lead to these electrical seizures of activity that occur in this section of brain tissue."

Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries - a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. John Beggs is a Biophysicist at Indiana University. As he looks for causes and cures of epileptic seizures, John is studying the interactions between, and organization of, neurons brain cells. Right now we're listening to a recording of electrical impulses being sent between neurons.

"So later today we're going to have a neurosurgeon from Indianapolis visit us for lunch and we'll show her around the lab and talk about plans for our collaborative project. She's the one who allows us to take some of the tissue from human patients that is damaged. It's going to be removed anyway during her neurosurgeries and this is tissue that's near a tumor or that's damaged by a tumor, or it's epileptic, and so we slice it up and bring it down to Bloomington, and then we record from it. And so far we've had two successful recordings. We got some very good data. It was active for about an hour-and-a-half, the tissue was. So it was wonderful. What's really good about this tissue is that it allows us to look at a network of neurons that are right in the center of an epileptic focus. And we'd really like to know why these neurons are overactive, and why they lead to these electrical seizures of activity that occur in this section of brain tissue. Then maybe that'll lead us toward understanding how we might prevent epilepsy or at least ameliorate its effects in people who have it."

You can check out John Begg's blog at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.