Introduction from Dr Markus Reuber, editor-in-chief of Seizure
The last decades have seen an explosion of new insights into the neurobiological underpinnings of epilepsy and its treatment. Whilst some of these new discoveries, for instance new pharmacological treatments or brain imaging methods have been immediately relevant to patient care, many more - especially in the basic sciences - have been exciting to scientists but have not had a significant effect on epileptological practice. In fact, it could be said that the continuous growth of knowledge in the more basic sciences has made the translational gap between basic research and clinical practice grow a little wider every year.
Computational models and other mathematical approaches can help close this gap especially when they are used by individuals with a good clinical understanding of epilepsy and a thorough grasp of the relevant mathematical concepts. Computational models have already been used to gain insights into and generate novel hypotheses about the cellular and network level brain mechanisms of epileptic seizures. They have also been employed for tasks as diverse as the search for predictors of impending epileptic seizures or to guide strategies for surgical, pharmacological and electrical stimulation therapies. For instance, a recent publication in Seizure highlighted that, in certain circumstances, mathematical prediction is more accurate than clinical estimation at predicting the chances of achieving seizure-freedom after epilepsy surgery (1).
In my editor's choice article from the current issue of Seizure Roxana A Stefanescu, Shivakeshavan G Ratnadurai and Sachin Talathi describe how mathematical modeling works and to what uses it can be put in epileptology (2). Their review demonstrates how many epilepsy researchers could benefit from mathematical knowledge - or at least from the help of someone familiar with computational modeling.
(1) Baxendale S, Thompson P, McEvoy A, Duncan J. Epilepsy surgery: how accurate are multidisciplinary teams in predicting outcome? Seizure 2012; 21:546-9.
(2) Stefanescu R A, Ratnadurai S G, Talathi S. Computational Models of Epilepsy. Seizure S1059-1311(12)00137-9
Full text of Computational models of epilepsy