Research published in the medical journal The Lancet suggests the onset of seizures may be able to be predicted by by electroencephalogram (EEG), which records electrical activity from different parts of the brain and converts it into a tracing.
The investigators, from Hopital de la Pitie-Salpetriere in Paris, analysed 26 recordings from 60 minutes before a seizure in 23 patients with temporal-lobe epilepsy.
In 25 of 26 recordings measurement of changes in EEG signals allowed anticipation of a seizure on average 7 minutes before it occurred.
One of the report's authors, Franciso Varela, said:
"Our method holds the potential for clinical application, warning patients at home or in a hospital setting... If proven reliable, such an application would improve the medical consequences of seizures and improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy".
Philip Lee, Chief Executive of British Epilepsy Association (BEA), commented:
"This is an interesting and exciting development. BEA welcomes all new research that enhances our understanding of epilepsy and can lead to improvements in how the condition is treated."