Docs to use new method to study epilepsy at cellular level

This machine, Magneto Encephalography (MEG), for the first time, will detect abnormalities in the magnetic field of the brain rather than electrical signals, to map the abnormal areas of the brain. This will help doctors to identify functional changes in the brain, that occur before the structural changes are seen or even when the structural changes are absent.

"A magnetic field is always accompanied by an electric field. Techniques like the PET scan and the Electro Encephelography (EEG), which are conventional methods to identify functional changes in the brain, only use the electric fields. The MEG has a sensitivity of 1/10 millionth of the earth's magnetic field, which synchronises perfectly with the magnetic field produced by the brain, and can detect magnetic signals," Dr Manjari Tripathi, co-investigator of the project, said.

An advanced magnetic shielding lab to protect the machine from the earth's magnetic field is being constructed to house the MEG machine and will be operational in six months.

Epilepsy can be detected more appropriately by functional brain mapping techniques, rather than structural techniques like MRI.

Dr Tripathi said, "In such cases, MEG could prove much more useful as it has the capability of being highly sensitive in detecting abnormalities in areas of the brain which may look completely normal in all other investigations."

In the project, every patient who is cleared for surgery will first be subjected to MEG, along with other tests like MRI, to identify the focal points of epilepsy areas where the faulty neurons congregate. These areas will then be removed by surgery and the brain samples will be put through live tissue sampling to test for various characteristics.

Deciphering epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterised by abnormal energy levels in brain cells

It can have varied manifestations as opposed to the common myth of seizures or "attacks" being the classic

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