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The Roots of Epilepsy

  • Published24 Mar 2014
  • Reviewed24 Mar 2014
  • Author Michael W. Richardson
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

Abnormal dendrites protrude into different areas of the brain.
Hester, et al. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2013.

Epilepsy, one of the oldest known medical conditions, affects roughly 50 million people worldwide. Yet, the underlying causes of the disease remain mysterious.

Recently, scientists have focused their search on a group of cells in the hippocampus that are important for learning and memory. In epilepsy, the branches of these cells called dendrites (the black bands in the image above) develop abnormally and extend into parts of the brain where they shouldn’t be. If scientists can halt the growth of these trespassing cells, they may be able to provide new ways to treat epilepsy in the future.

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