Stimulating the brain with implanted electrodes is a successful, but very drastic measure. Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology, Kempenhaeghe, Philips Neuro and Gent University will therefore be working on a method to stimulate the brain using electrodes that are placed on the head rather than inside it. Their goal is to customize treatment for patients with severe epilepsy.
The researchers expect a new Philips medical instrument to provide the solution for focal seizures; seizures in a specific part of the brain. This is a system with 256 electrodes that not only measures brain activity (EEG), but can also apply very targeted current. Project leader and technical research leader Rob Mestrom of Eindhoven University of Technology: “This instrument therefore offers us the unique opportunity to see more accurately than before where exactly in the brain an epileptic seizure takes place. We can then stimulate precisely that point and measure the effect directly. This gives a personalized approach, because it is tailored to the readings of the individual patient.”
The basic idea of the project, called PerStim, is simple, says Paul Boon, clinical research leader and professor at UGent and TU Eindhoven. “When we have located the source of the seizure, we target an electrical stimulus at that spot that is exactly the opposite of the measured activity. As a result, the seizure should be ‘extinguished’. We will investigate this with both direct and alternating currents.”