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Epilepsy and Neurophysiology Research

Below are faculty and labs that are studying drugs, new technologies and enhanced imaging to improve safety, diagnostic accuracy and outcomes for patients with seizures.

To learn about ongoing clinical trials or participate in a study, visit the clinical trials page for our Division of Epilepsy & Clinical Neurophysiology.

Labs

 Rodrigo Braga Lab

Dr. Braga’s lab investigates the relationship between neural activity within brain networks and cognitive functions.

Research Description

The Braga Lab is investigating the relationship between neural activity within large-scale brain networks and cognitive functions that are advanced in humans, such as the use of language or thinking about the past or future. These functions are localized to associative regions of the brain that have disproportionately expanded in recent hominin evolution and are separated from information processing hierarchies devoted to any single sensory modality. By mapping brain networks in association areas with precision within individual volunteers using functional MRI, and measuring neural population activity using intracranial techniques, we can characterize brain networks at high spatial and temporal resolution and make insights into their specialization and function. A major focus of the lab is to study the nature of cross-network interactions and the role these play in different cognitive processes.

For lab information and more, visit Dr. Braga's faculty profile or the Braga Lab website.

Contact Us

rbraga@northwestern.edu

Twitter: @RodBraga

 Gemma Carvill Lab

Dr. Carvill’s lab studies the genetic causes and pathogenic mechanisms that underlie epilepsy.

Research Description

The primary goal of our research is to use gene discovery and molecular biology approaches to identify new treatments for epilepsy. We aim to 1) identify the genetic causes of epilepsy, 2) use stem cell models to understand how genetic mutations can cause epilepsy, 3) develop and test new therapeutics for this condition. Our work is based on the promise of precision medicine where knowledge of an individual’s genetic makeup shapes a personalized approach to care and management of epilepsy.

Current Projects

  • Next generation sequencing in patients with epilepsy
  • Alternative exon usage during neuronal development
  • Identify the regulatory elements that control expression of known epilepsy genes
  • Stem cell genetic models for studying the epigenetic basis of epilepsy

For more information, see Dr. Carvill's faculty profile or the Carvill Lab Website.

Publications

Please see Dr. Caraveo Piso's publications on PubMed.

Contact Information

Gemma L. Carvill, PhD

Twitter: @CarvillLab

 Marc W. Slutzky Lab

Dr. Slutzky’s lab investigates methods of assisting people with neurologic disorders through brain-machine interfaces.

Research Description

The goal of our research is to help people with neurologic disorders, especially those who are severely paralyzed from stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, or ALS. Our research centers around using neural prosthetics, i.e., human machine interfaces, to help restore or replace function of the injured nervous system. We have developed a myoelectric interface for neurorehabilitation training (MINT) to help people with stroke regain function in their arms. The MINT uses electrical muscle signals to control a cursor in customized video games. This enables them to improve coordination between the muscles.

Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) offer the capability to “decode” brain signals and use them to control computer cursors, prosthetic limbs, or haptic feedback devices. We are investigating the possibility of using BMIs to help rehabilitate brain function by driving plasticity. We study this in humans with traumatic brain injury. In addition, we are investigating the potential to decode a person’s intended speech directly from his or her brain and using this to restore communication to people who have lost it due to severe paralysis. We also use this powerful paradigm to study the underlying relationship between different types of brain signals, for example, the relationship between field potentials (summed from many neurons in the network) and action potentials of individual neurons.

Publications

For more information see the faculty profile of Marc W. Slutzky, MD, PhD or the Slutzky Lab website.

Contact Us

Email Marc W. Slutzky, MD, PhD

Phone: 312-503-4653

Twitter: @SlutzkyLab

 Christina Zelano Lab

Dr. Zelano’s lab uses fMRI, EEG and invasive EEG methods to study neural oscillations in the human olfactory system, their connection to the respiratory cycle, and their propagation to downstream limbic areas involved in emotion and memory processing.

Research Description

The respiratory rhythm is inherently linked to olfaction; it is not possible to encounter an odor without first inhaling through the nose. Thus respiration imposes a natural rhythm of stimulus sampling in the olfactory system. In the mammalian olfactory bulb, local field potentials oscillate in phase with breathing, regulating cortical excitability, synchronizing activity within cell assemblies and coordinating network interactions, thus shaping olfactory sensory coding, memory and behavior. Due to timing constraints with neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and anatomical constraints with surface EEG recordings, very little is known about respiratory oscillations in the human olfactory system. We use invasive EEG methods (iEEG) to examine how the respiratory rhythm is represented in the human olfactory system, and how this representation changes during different attentional states, and in the presence of odor. We are also interested in the propagation of respiratory oscillations from olfactory cortex to other nearby limbic areas such as the amygdala and the hippocampus, and how these limbic respiratory-linked oscillations impact cognitive functions. We are currently developing fMRI and surface EEG protocols for studying human respiratory oscillations originating in olfactory brain regions that don’t require iEEG methods.

Another goal of the lab is to understand the neural correlates of olfactory attentional mechanisms. The olfactory system is anatomically unique in that it has no pre-cortical thalamic relay. Rather, the olfactory system has a very small contingent of fibers projecting to the mediodorsal thalamic downstream from primary olfactory cortex. While this small contingent likely plays a role in olfactory attention, the unique anatomical organization of the olfactory thalamic relay suggests that olfactory attentional mechanisms may differ from other modalities. We use psychophysics, fMRI and iEEG methods to examine attentional mechanisms such as selective attention and predictive coding within the olfactory system.

For lab information and more, visit Dr. Zelano's faculty profile or the Zelano Lab website.

Publications

View Christina Zelano's full publication listing on PubMed.

Contact Information

Christina M Zelano, PhD
Assistant Professor in Neurology
312-503-7244

Faculty

Bleck, Thomas P

Bleck, Thomas P

Professor of Neurology (Neurocritical Care) and Neurology (Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology)

Bio

neurocritical care, status epilepticus, subarachnoid hemorrhage, neurogenic respiratory failure, intracerebral hemorrhage, Guillain-Barre syndrome, central nervous system infections, clostridial disea... [more]

Carvill, Gemma L

Carvill, Gemma L

Assistant Professor of Neurology (Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology), Pediatrics and Pharmacology

Bio

The primary aim of our research is to identify the genetic factors and biological mechanisms that cause epilepsy. We use a variety of sequencing technologies to identify new genetic causes in both the... [more]

Gerard, Elizabeth E

Gerard, Elizabeth E

Associate Professor of Neurology (Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology)

Bio

My clinical practice focuses on the care of women with epilepsy. This includes contraceptive and pre-conception counseling as well as the management of epilepsy during pregnancy. I am the site-PI of t... [more]

Macken, Micheal P

Macken, Micheal P

Associate Professor of Neurology (Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology)

Bio

Epilepsy in children and adults, the pharmacology of anticonvulsant medications, vagus nerve stimulation in epilepsy, epilepsy surgery, the neurophysiology of epilepsy. Intra-operative neurophysiologi... [more]

Schuele, Stephan U

Schuele, Stephan U

Professor of Neurology (Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology) and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Bio

My research is focused on the mechanisms and prevention of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). I am also interested in cortical plasticity and functional mapping in patient undergoing epilep... [more]

Templer, Jessica W

Templer, Jessica W

Assistant Professor of Neurology (Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology)

VanHaerents, Stephen A

VanHaerents, Stephen A

Assistant Professor of Neurology (Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology), Medical Education and Neurology (Neuro-infectious Disease and Global Neurology)

Bio

Dr. VanHaerents's practice focuses on the medical and surgical treatment of epilepsy. His clinical research interests include neurostimulation, identification and treatment of Autoimmune Epilepsy/Ence... [more]

Zelano, Christina M

Zelano, Christina M

Assistant Professor of Neurology (Epilepsy/Clinical Neurophysiology)

Bio

My research is focused on the human olfactory system and its impact on other limbic brain regions involved in emotion and memory.

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