The sacred disease: Epileptic seizures

Sep 28, 2017
  • 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm. Reception to follow.
  • Location:
    Rudy North Lecture Theatre Room 101, Lower Lobby
    Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, 2215 Wesbrook Mall
    Vancouver, BC

Epilepsy is the second most common brain disorder after migraine, affecting one to two percent of the world population. It remains drug-resistant in 30 percent of the cases. It is often stigmatised, which results in stressful situations for affected individual and their family. Yet, there is nothing special about epilepsy. Epileptic seizures are “normal” activities of the brain. They are found across species, from flies to humans. In fact, seizures are built-in activities. That is to say, they are endogenous to the brain. We, as individuals, just differ by their probability of occurrence. In patients with epilepsy, the probability is just greater than in non-affected individuals.

Prof. Christophe Bernard, Director of Research at the Institut de Neuroscience des Systèmes, will show that seizures are in fact a very simple form of brain activity, and that they follow simple mathematical rules that are universal across species and brain regions. This knowledge, gained from non-linear system theory, allows us to propose the first scientifically-based classification of seizures. Prof. Bernard will also show how this knowledge can be used, in the context of neurosurgery, to render drug-resistant patients seizure-free.