Approximately 1% of the world’s population (50 million people) suffers from epilepsy, with two thirds of those having recurring symptoms.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where seizures occur randomly, caused by chemically and/or electrically driven over-excitation in populations of neurons (brain cells). These seizures can impair consciousness in many ways (the most commonly known being convulsions) depending on the part of the brain that is affected. In any case their apparent randomness can significantly impair the quality of life of sufferers.
While there are many drugs and some surgeries that can be used to control epileptic seizures, 25% of epileptics cannot be treated sufficiently by any available therapy. Moreover, the exact cause of epileptic seizures in the brain is not well understood.
Our research goal is to understand the underlying causes of epilepsy from a mathematical standpoint, where interactions/signalling between neurons are studied. Mathematical modelling, signal processing and physiological experiments are all important tools to help us do this.
In the long term we want to use this understanding to develop technology that can detect, predict and intervene the generation of epileptic seizures. A physical device could then be used to deliver therapy in the form of fast acting drugs, electrical stimulus, or simply as a warning mechanism.