Research at Cain
A recent study published in eNeuro from the laboratory of Dr. John Swann, director of the Gordon and Mary Cain Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation Laboratories at Texas Children’s Hospital shows how frequent seizures alter the microanatomy of neurons in the brain and that the activity of a specific enzyme may contribute to the cognitive and behavioral deficits observed in children with epileptic encephalopathies.
It is known that the human brain has its own rhythmic activity. Some of these brain rhythms are relatively slow - occurring only a few times per second while others are faster and occur 30 to 80 times every second. However, with recent advances in electronic instrumentation it is now very clear that the brain produces even faster rhythms. Some of these rhythms are perfectly normal like “ripples” that occur 80-200 times per second. Others are even faster but most of these high frequency oscillations (HFOs), which sometimes occur 600 times per second, are thought to be abnormal.
Many pediatric cases of incurable epilepsy are attributed to a congenital defect, known as cortical dysplasia (CD) in which the neurons fail to migrate to appropriate locations in the brain during development. This results in abnormal brain architecture and neuronal miswiring that manifests as severe seizures. Currently, no treatments exist to prevent this condition and the only option is to reduce seizures using anticonvulsants or neurosurgery.