Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder of children, and one of the major neurological conditions affecting the general population. Up to 10 percent of people will suffer a seizure at some stage of their life.
As one of the world’s leading centres for epilepsy research, our Epilepsy division specialises in imaging and molecular neurobiology in both human and animal models. It is integrated with other leading researchers as a core part of the internationally recognised National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Epilepsy Program.
Through the use of advanced MRI methods, major advances continue to be achieved in understanding epilepsy. These advances are rapidly translated to improved patient care through Victorian Epilepsy Centres’ comprehensive epilepsy programs; one of these is at the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg where the Florey imaging team is an integral part of the investigation and treatment of epilepsy in patients.
In order to better understand the effect of epilepsy on cognition, our scientists use advanced neuroimaging techniques to map the functional effect of epilepsy in several cognitive domains. One of the key issues in brain surgery to remove an epileptic focus is potential damage to the normal functioning of the patient. For the best possible outcome, one needs a good understanding of how normal brain function is organised, and how this may be perturbed in a person with epilepsy. Our scientists have mapped disease-related changes in brain regions responsible for language, memory, music (singing), and are also examining changes in these domains post- surgery.
Genetics plays a major role in epilepsy. In particular, subtle changes in the properties of mutated ion channel proteins have been identified as the cause of many cases of human epilepsy. Through the use of advanced electrophysiological and biophysical tools, the group’s efforts focus on exposing the fundamental physiological changes that predispose people to epilepsy, and thereby will reveal methods and approaches for diagnosis and therapy.
The goal of the multi-disciplinary Neurobiology of Epilepsy group is to use analysis, data, and computational power to to reveal the neural mechanisms that cause epilepsy. Genetic engineering, seizure threshold analysis, EEG analysis, quantitative morphology, physiology and computation are all combined to achieve this goal.