"The advantage of performing this non-invasively is that as the seizure focus moves, we can change which electrodes the electrical stimulation is applied to without having to conduct surgery to add more electrodes to the brain," he added.
According to Besio, if a seizure lasts for an extended period of time it can cause brain damage, so a method of turning off the seizure via electrical stimulation should prevent brain damage and provide what he calls "neuro-protection." From his research findings, he believes that a stimulus provided through his electrode could be especially beneficial to those suffering from status epilepticus, a life-threatening condition in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure and which causes 20,000 to 40,000 deaths each year in the United States.
Besio's NIH grant, along with an additional $15,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, will also be used to determine if the electrical stimulation itself causes any bodily harm, pain or changes in heart rate.
While Besio has already demonstrated that his bulls-eye electrode works for several applications, he can't quite explain why it works.
"We hope to learn more about that with this study," he said. "I think it has something to do with the pattern of stimulation it administers, with how it injects current into the body. Neurons in specific areas of the brain are oriented in a certain direction, and by applying the stimulation in a particular way, it activates certain neurons aligned in one orientation. Conventional electrodes simply stimulate everything in their path."
|Contact: Todd McLeish|
University of Rhode Island