Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a new computer model that may explain why some seizures spread throughout the brain whilst others stay localized.The seizure networks model, which the scientists developed using direct recordings from the brain of people with epilepsy, proposes that, whereas some regions in the brain promote seizure activity, others dampen it.The leader of the study, Dr Danielle Basset, said in a press release: “We think this regulatory network has what is known as a ‘push-pull regulatory control.’ There are some regions of the regulatory network that can push the seizure network into a less active state, or pull it out of that state.”According to the authors, understanding which parts of the network promote seizure activity and which parts dampen it could be invaluable in developing new therapies to treat people with epilepsy.The regulatory networks could be targeted using different approaches to stop the spread of seizures in the brain. For example, areas that help quieten seizure activity could be strengthened with implantable devices, whilst regions that promote it could be ‘eliminated’ with laser surgery.The team demonstrated that, using a technique called “virtual cortical resection” on their model, they could mimic the surgical removal of different areas of the brain that are implicated in seizure networks; making it possible to predict the impact that surgery may have in terms of stopping seizures.The scientists had previously used their model to predict areas of the brain where seizures originate and spread.The study was published in the leading scientific journal, Neuron.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about brain science including genetics.