The brain contains billions of interconnected neurons that normally transmit electrical pulses. During a seizure, these pulses occur in abnormal, synchronized, rapid-fire bursts that can cause convulsions, loss of consciousness and other symptoms.
More than 20 drugs are on the market for epilepsy, but they do not always provide adequate seizure control. Surgery can be an effective treatment option for people with drug-resistant epilepsy and commonly involves removing, or resecting, an area of the brain where the seizures originate. Electrode arrays are used to map the seizures and guide resection surgery.
The arrays currently used to record seizure activity in patients being considered for surgery consist of electrodes attached to a rubbery base about the thickness of a credit card. These arrays are placed on the surface of the brain, but they are not flexible enough to mold to the brain's many folds. The electrodes are widely spaced and allow for only limited brain coverage.
The array developed by Dr. Viventi and his colleagues is made of a pliable material that is only about one quarter the thickness of a human hair. It contains 360 electrodes and built-in silicon transistors, which allow for minimal wiring and dense packing of the electrodes. "This technology allows us to see patterns of activity before and during a seizure at a very fine scale, with broad coverage of the brain," said Jonathan Viventi, Ph.D., the study's lead author and an assistant professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and New York University.
The flexibility of the array allows it to conform to the brain's complex shape, even reaching into grooves that are inaccessible to conventional arrays. With further engineering, the array could be rolled into a tube and delivered into the brain through a small hole rather than by opening the skull, the researc
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NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke