Some patients describe epileptic seizures like an earthquake from within, starting slow and growing without their control. To a brain researcher, seizures are an electrical firestorm of neuronal activation in the brain. Now, studies at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University), have shown that some types of seizure paradoxically begin with a hush: a spike in inhibition. Neurons that dampen neuronal activity may be responsible for starting the large-scale over-activation of a seizure.
“This is the first time to our knowledge that this phenomenon of inhibition at the start of a seizure has been observed in humans,” said senior author Shennan Weiss, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Head of Thomas Jefferson Computational Epilepsy Laboratory at the Vickie & Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Jefferson. “Such a shift in our thinking could change how we go about looking for new treatments for preventing epileptic seizures,” said Dr. Weiss, who also treats patients with the disease.