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Septum keeps neurons in synch, can reduce epileptic seizures by 90 percent

g with each other through electrical impulses but it's a chatter that has to be kept in check, or it can snowball into an electrical storm that marks an epileptic seizure, Colom explained. Epilepsy affects an estimated 4 million Americans, he said.

There are a variety of ways to induce neurons to fire rhythmically, including, interestingly, engaging in stimulating cognitive activities.

Scientists and medical providers know that brain lesions, skull fractures, and high fever are among the factors that can produce epilepsy. But in most cases, there is no obvious cause, Colom said.

Colom's lifelong interest in how the brain works has led him to study epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. People who suffer Alzheimer's, a degenerative disorder that affects various brain regions including the septum, have a higher risk of epileptic seizures, in the 10-22 percent range, he noted.

Previous studies have suggested that the septum plays an antiepileptic role. But in this study, Colom et al. showed what happens among the septum's neurons during epilepsy, knowledge that is important to understanding the mechanism underlying seizure generation. This line of inquiry could one day lead to the development of anti-epileptic drugs, said Colom.

Theta disrupted in epileptic rats

In this study, the researchers induced epilepsy by injecting anesthetized rats with pilocarpine, a drug that excites the brain's neurons and activates the synapses between the neurons to produce status epilepticus, in which sustained seizures occur. The rats received diazepam three hours later to interrupt the seizures, but became chronically epileptic, experiencing 3-5 seizures weekly.

The researchers then used electrodes to record individual neurons within the septum of the anesthetized rats to see what happened within the nerve pathways. They found that the epileptic rats suffered significantly more epileptic episodes when the brain did not have the
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Source:American Physiological Society


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