Havoc in harmony

 
Published: Monday 31 October 1994

Despite their growing popularity, electric shocks may not be good for epileptics. Electric shocks are known to impose order among the neurons, or nerve cells, but scientists at the George Washington University, Washington Dc, and the Georgia Institute of Technology at Athens, Georgia, suggest that an abnormal degree of order among such cells, instead of their natural state of chaos, is what probably causes epileptic spasms.

The scientists found that during chemically induced seizures in rats, nerve cells fire erratically but in unison, a phenomenon called "chanting". The scientists believe that seizures could be avoided by implanting tiny electrodes in the brain to disrupt neuronal chanting". But further animal tests are needed before such treatment is tried out.

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