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Thin, flexible electrode array  (Source: eurekalert.org)
The electrode array is made of a pliable material that's thickness is that of about a quarter of a human hair

A team of researchers has created a flexible brain implant that could eventually be used to identify where a seizure starts in the brain and shut it down.

Brian Litt, M.D., study leader and associate professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, along with Jonathan Viventi, Ph.D., lead author and assistant professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, and a team of researchers, have developed a type of electrode array that adjusts to the brain's surface and could allow for a better understanding of epileptic seizures.

The brain holds billions of neurons that transmit electrical pulses, and when a seizure occurs, these pulses occur in an abnormal fashion. The pulses become rapid "bursts" that lead to loss of consciousess and convulsions. While there are over 20 drugs available to treat epilepsy, they don't always control seizures properly.

Surgery is another option for individuals with epilepsy, where electrode arrays are used to "map" seizures and allow for the removal of the area of the brain where seizures begin. However, the electrode arrays currently used are not flexible and do not adjust to the folds of the brain, meaning they provide minimal coverage.

That's where Litt and Viventi's new device comes in. Their array is made of a pliable material thats thickness is that of about a quarter of a human hair. It has 360 electrodes and built-in silicon transistors for minimal wiring. The electrode array conform's to the brain's many folds, allowing for maximum coverage.

The brain implant was tested on cats because they have larger brains that are more similar to the human brain than mice. The research team found that the device was able to record brain responses during various situations, such as the cat viewing certain objects or sleep rhythms while undergoing anesthesia. The researchers gave the cats a drug that induced seizures, and the brain implant allowed them to see what kind of response occurred.

"We were able to watch as spiral waves began and became self-sustaining," said Litt. "We should be able to model the spirals and determine what kind of waveform can stop them. Or we can watch the spirals terminate spontaneously and try to reproduce what we see by stimulating the brain electrically."

The researchers hope to one day roll the array into a tube and send it into the brain through a small hole instead of opening the skull.

Source: Eurekalert



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like a novel
By dgingerich on 11/14/2011 4:48:19 PM , Rating: 3
I believe there was a novel back in the 70s about this kind of thing. It wound up pushing the guy's brain into a permanent seizure and turning him into a homicidal maniac.

now if I could just remember the title.




RE: like a novel
By Shadowself on 11/14/2011 6:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton

I flashed to exactly that book too. I read it over 35 years ago. It's an interesting read.


RE: like a novel
By Shig on 11/14/2011 6:58:42 PM , Rating: 2
More relevant science fiction novels to the current times would be Neuromancer(1984) or Accelerando(2005).


RE: like a novel
By quiksilvr on 11/15/2011 9:11:32 AM , Rating: 2
To be fair, the patient they were working on was psychotic and wasn't taking his prescribed medication.


RE: like a novel
By Skywalker123 on 11/17/2011 2:12:30 AM , Rating: 2
I was right! It was Reclaimer


RE: like a novel
By Skywalker123 on 11/17/2011 12:51:22 AM , Rating: 2
Was it "The Return of Reclaimer?"


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997














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