Brain wave study shows potential treatments for epilepsy

Published: December 12 2023
Last updated: March 26 2024

Grace Wood | Slow brain waves may reduce the impact of seizures, according to researchers at UCL

Slow brain waves may reduce the impact of seizuresSlow brain waves may reduce the impact of seizures and could provide potential avenues for future therapies, according to a group of researchers at University College London (UCL).

The academics found that people with epilepsy have slow brain waves – which are usually seen during sleep – while they are awake.

The study, titled ‘Wake slow waves in focal human epilepsy impact network activity and cognition’, was featured in the journal Nature Communications last month.

Speaking to Epilepsy Action, lead author Dr Laurent Sheybani explained the results of the work.

“During sleep, slow waves of nerve cell activity decrease the excitability that has accumulated during the day, allowing the brain to reset, ready for the next day.

“We found that these slow waves, which usually occur only during sleep, also occur during wakefulness in people with epilepsy,” he said.

The team made the discovery by analysing the EEGs of patients with focal epilepsy who were undergoing assessment for surgery.

The study included 25 patients, 11 female and 14 male, with an average age of 39, who were being treated at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

Dr Sheybani added: “These slow waves slowed people’s reaction times but did not affect how accurately people did on memory tasks. This contrasts with epileptic activity, which affected memory performance.

“We propose that enhancing these slow waves could open up avenues for future therapies in epilepsy for both reducing seizures and improving memory performance.”

Dr Sheybani and team will be writing more about their study in the next edition of Epilepsy Professional, published in February 2024. To receive our copy sign up here: