- Insights into mechanism of lowering temperature in
specific areas of the brain that could possibly treat epilepsy.
- Focal cooling is a procedure where a device is
implanted in a specific part of the brain to reduce electrical signals.
- A rat brain model with epileptic condition was used
to study the different mechanisms underlying effects of focal cooling.
Around 50 million people worldwide deal with sudden and recurring seizures
characteristic of epilepsy
is caused due to abnormal brain activity and
splurge of electrical signals that result in seizures.
Although there is
medications and surgeries available to treat symptoms, the alternative approach of
brain cooling may reduce frequency of seizures and may even prevent them. A
recent study sheds light on the focal cooling mechanism using computer
simulations. The findings are published in Computational Biology.
Brain Cooling Treatment
epileptic seizures occur in a limited area called the epileptic focus. Focal
cooling is a mechanism where a device is implanted in the epileptic focus or
focal area to suppress the abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
‘Cooling the focal area of the brain called focal cooling involves implanting a device in the area suppresses the hyperactive electrical signals in the brain’
focal cooling is not a novel idea of treatment, the approach has only been
performed successfully in animal models like rodents
medications are available to treat symptoms of epilepsy, there are up to 35% of
patients that cannot effectively control seizures, even with such assistance.
The only other alternative for them is surgery, to remove the epileptic focus
area of the brain, which can be risky. Focal cooling if approved for clinical
use could eliminate the need for surgery altogether.
Objective of the Study
cooling has shown consistent success in rat epileptic brain models. However,
sometimes focal cooling increases the electrical activity in the brain while suppressing
the strength. The recent study conducted at Nara Institute of Science and
Technology (NAIST), Japan, has gained insights into the focal cooling mechanism
using computer simulation techniques.
The research team used data from laboratory and previous rat studies to first
simulate a mechanism in which the focal cooling reduces activity at neural
synapses, thereby reducing electrical signals. But this alone did not reproduce
signal patterns observed in previous focal cooling experiments in rats.
Following which a second mechanism in which cooling resulted in consistent
signals but with lower strength was simulated. A combination of both mechanisms
reproduced results from previous experiments.
brain cooling could be an alternative treatment for epileptic seizures with
lower risk of irreversible functional loss compared to surgery," says
study co-author Takatomi Kubo. "Our study attempts to start an initiative
on thermal neuromodulation of brain activity using a computational approach
that can elucidate its mechanism and complement animal experiments and clinical
- Cooling Brains to Treat Epilepsy - (https://www.iths.org/blog/news/cooling-brains-to-treat-epilepsy/)
- Overview Epilepsy - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093)