Thursday, October 24, 2013

Epilepsy a Window Onto Brain Function

John Blanchard/ The Chron

A good piece in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle reviews the key role epilepsy patients and their doctors have played in the history of neuroscience. The article, Epilepsy Opens a New Window Onto Brain Function, by Kristen Brown, focuses on the emerging importance of intracranial studies of epilepsy patients whose brains have been wired with electrodes to help locate the foci of their seizures. While these patients are being observed, they often donate their wired-brain-time to science, granting by far the best available extended access to the inside of a conscious human brain. But Brown's piece also looks at key contributions of Henry Molaison, who taught us much of what we know about human memory when his hippocampus was removed to quell his seizures, and Wilder Penfield, who first described the functional geography of the motor and sensory cortices by systematically stimulating and observing the effects in his patients.

This is fascinating stuff! Someone should write a book on the subject!

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