Basic Research

PI: Hal Blumenfeld, MD, PhD

Summary: Focal seizures with impaired consciousness critically reduces quality of life in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Using an animal model, we aim to determine how focal seizures affect the brain networks and neuronal mechanisms causing impaired consciousness. Using various techniques such as electrophysiology recording, optogenetic, imaging or neuroanatomical tracing our research presents functional and anatomical evidence that focal seizures initiated from the hippocampus may lead to subcortical arousal inhibition that contributes to cortical depression. Understanding the neuronal networks for impaired consciousness in focal seizures may lead to more therapeutic options to treat this disorder. For further information, contact Hal Blumenfeld, M.D., Ph.D.

PI: Hal Blumenfeld, MD, PhD


Summary: The sudden and unexpected impairments in conscious awareness during and following seizures has a major negative impact on quality of life for patients with epilepsy. Recent clinically-applicable techniques in neuromodulation, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) and responsive neurostimulation, provide a unique opportunity to reverse or prevent impairments in consciousness associated with seizures. Disorders of consciousness other than epilepsy have long been known to arise from dysfunction of subcortical-cortical arousal circuits. Recent research has shown that transient impaired consciousness in temporal lobe epilepsy also depends on subcortical-cortical arousal, including intralaminar thalamic nuclei. Translational studies further demonstrate depressed intralaminar thalamic function in limbic seizures and thalamic stimulation has the potential to restore physiological and behavioral arousal in the ictal and postictal periods. We continue to research novel sites for intracranial stimulation to reverse or prevent loss of consciousness associated with the ictal and post-ictal periods with combined techniques in electrophysiology, functional neuro-imaging, and behavioral testing. These translational research projects support on-going efforts to investigate the effects of neurostimulation to prevent loss of consciousness in humans through clinical trials.

PI: Hal Blumenfeld, MD, PhD

Summary: Focal seizures with impaired consciousness critically reduces quality of life in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Using an animal model, we aim to determine how focal seizures affect the brain networks and neuronal mechanisms causing impaired consciousness. Using various techniques such as electrophysiology recording, optogenetic, imaging or neuroanatomical tracing our research presents functional and anatomical evidence that focal seizures initiated from the hippocampus may lead to subcortical arousal inhibition that contributes to cortical depression. Understanding the neuronal networks for impaired consciousness in focal seizures may lead to more therapeutic options to treat this disorder. For further information, contact Hal Blumenfeld, M.D., Ph.D.

PI: Hal Blumenfeld, MD, PhD

Summary: What changes in the brain’s activity cause a person to have a seizure? Our research using high field fMRI, electrophysiology, and behavioral data from animal models aim to shed light on this critical question. We look at activity in cortical and subcortical networks around and during multiple types of generalized seizure, and identify specific neuronal populations and patterns of activity that cause the behavioral symptoms of epilepsy. Highlighting these cells, and the intracellular components that dictate their activity, is crucial for understanding the mechanisms by which seizures are generated, and for the development of targeted therapies with better efficacy and fewer side effects. 

For further information, contact Hal Blumenfeld, M.D., Ph.D.