Wednesday December 19, 2018

Structural differences in brain are linked to epilepsy

Adults with epilepsy exhibited lower volume in the right thalamus, a region which relays sensory and motor signals.

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Structure of brain can help find the causes behind epilepsy.
Structure of brain can help find the causes behind epilepsy.
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  • Latest research reveals that thickness and volume of brain can have an effect on our health
  • The differences can cause epilepsy
  • Apparently, there is more to epilepsy than realised

Thickness and volume differences in the grey matter of several brain regions could predict an increased risk of developing epilepsy — a neurological disorder characterised by seizures, finds a research led by a professor of Indian-origin.

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Epilepsy affects 0.6-1.5 per cent of the global population, comprising many different syndromes and conditions, and defined by a tendency for seizures.

The findings showed reduced grey matter thickness in parts of the brain’s outer layer (cortex) and reduced volume in subcortical brain regions in all epilepsy groups when compared to the control group.

Connection between the grey matter and seizures. www.deccanchronicle.com
Connection between the grey matter and seizures. www.deccanchronicle.com

Reduced volume and thickness were associated with longer duration of epilepsy.

Adults with epilepsy exhibited lower volume in the right thalamus — a region which relays sensory and motor signals –and reduced thickness in the motor cortex, which controls the body’s movement.

These patterns were even present among people with idiopathic generalised epilepsies — a type of the disorder that are typically considered to be more benign if seizures are under control.

“We found differences in brain matter even in common epilepsies that are often considered to be comparatively benign,” said lead author, Sanjay Sisodiya, Professor at the University College London.

Also Read : Stress may trigger a form of Reflex Epilepsy and increase the risk of its Development  

“We have identified a common neuroanatomical signature of epilepsy, across multiple epilepsy types. We found that structural changes are present in multiple brain regions, which informs our understanding of epilepsy as a network disorder,” added Christopher Whelan from the University of Southern California.

There is more to seizure than we actually realise.
There is more to seizure than we actually realise.

For the study, published in the journal Brain, the team conducted MRI brain scans of 2,149 people with epilepsy, and compared with 1,727 healthy controls from across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia.

“Our findings suggest there’s more to epilepsy than we realise, and now we need to do more research to understand the causes of these differences,” Sisodiya said. IANS

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Travelling To Space May Alter Brain, Says Study

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume

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Keplar, NASA
According to co-author Andrew Casey, it was previously believed that the first stars that formed in the universe could not possibly still exist today. VOA

Spending long periods in space not only leads to muscle atrophy and reductions in bone density, it also has lasting effects on the brain, suggests a study.

The study, led by a team of neuroscientists from the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich, showed that differential changes in the three main tissue volumes of the brain remain detectable for at least half a year after the end of their last mission.

“Our results point to prolonged changes in the pattern of cerebrospinal fluid circulation over a period of at least seven months following the return to Earth,” said professor Peter zu Eulenburg from the LMU.

“However, whether or not the extensive alterations shown in the grey and the white matter lead to any changes in cognition remains unclear at present,” he added.

The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, was carried out on ten cosmonauts, each of whom had spent an average of 189 days on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) scans performed in the days after the return to Earth revealed that the volume of the grey matter was reduced compared to before launch.

ISS Launched First satellite For Cleaning Space Junk
Space travel can alter brain: Study, Pixabay

Seven months later, this effect was partly reversed, but nevertheless still detectable.

In contrast, the volume of the cerebrospinal fluid, which fills the inner and outer cavities of the brain, increased within the cortex during long-term exposure to microgravity.

Further, the white matter tissue volume (those parts of the brain that are primarily made up of nerve fibres) appeared to be unchanged upon investigation immediately after landing.

But, the subsequent examination six months later showed a widespread reduction in volume relative to both earlier measurements.

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In this case, the team postulated that over the course of a longer stint in space, the volume of the white matter may slowly be replaced by an influx of cerebrospinal fluid.

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume.

According to the researchers, further studies using a wider range of diagnostic methods are deemed essential, to minimise the risks associated with long-term missions and to characterise any clinical significance of the findings. (IANS)