August 1, 2023

Scientists Uncover New Brain Circuit for Epilepsy 

Article published by SciTechDaily


Researchers from Brigham have traced lesions associated with epilepsy to a shared brain circuit, indicating a unique role that deep brain circuits play in the origin and management of epilepsy. These innovative findings underscore the potential to leverage this specific brain circuit as a directional guide for brain stimulation treatments aimed at managing epilepsy. 


Over 30 million individuals around the globe are affected by focal epilepsy, often linked to brain lesions caused by conditions like stroke. Yet, it remains unclear why certain lesion locations trigger epilepsy while others don’t. A recent study conducted by scientists from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a key contributor to the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, discovered a usual brain circuit that might connect diverse lesion locations leading to epilepsy. 


In a paper published in JAMA Neurology, the researchers used a technique called lesion network mapping to identify this brain circuit with findings that point to potential targets for brain stimulation. 


“We’re learning more and more about where in the brain epilepsy comes from and what brain circuits we need to modulate to treat patients with epilepsy,” said lead author Frederic Schaper, MD, Ph.D., an Instructor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics. “Using a wiring diagram of the human brain, lesion network mapping allows us to look beyond the individual lesion location and map its connected brain circuit.” 


Schaper and the team studied 5 datasets of over 1,500 patients with brain lesions. Participating centers across the US and Europe included the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Northwestern University, and University Hospitals of Turku in Finland, Maastricht in the Netherlands, and Barcelona in Spain. They studied a variety of brain lesions such as stroke, trauma, and tumors, which allowed them to search for common network connections associated with epilepsy across different regions and types of brain damage.