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Yadav Receives American Epilepsy Society Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

August 07, 2023
by Allison Greco

The American Epilepsy Society (AES) has awarded Postdoctoral Associate Taruna Yadav, PhD with a $50,000 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. A member of the Blumenfeld Lab, Dr. Yadav is one of six Postdoctoral Research Fellowship recipients, and one of 25 early-career scientists to be honored with research grants and fellowships by the AES this year.

This competitive fellowship supports Dr. Yadav’s research, “Novel clinical tool to quantify impaired consciousness in epilepsy.” In this debilitating condition, someone with epilepsy can temporarily lose consciousness during a seizure, characterized by brief staring spells. This continual slipping in and out of consciousness is highly disruptive to everyday activities.

Although impaired consciousness in epilepsy significantly impacts quality of life, it is difficult for physicians to quantify behavioral responsiveness in an accurate manner with existing clinical tests. Dr. Yadav’s research seeks to change that by harnessing the power of wearable technology.

“I plan to use an innovative, wearable device, the Automatic Responsiveness Testing in Epilepsy” (ARTiE) Watch, for behavioral assessment during seizures and to gain new insights into impaired consciousness,” said Dr. Yadav.

This app-controlled technology assesses responsiveness during baseline and seizures and allows for consistent and objective evaluation of consciousness, as it evolves over the course of a seizure.

“Epilepsy patients in the video-EEG monitoring unit (enrolled in our study) at Yale New Haven Hospital are asked to wear the watch on their hand and answer the questions administered by the watch through a series of audio commands. The test is nearly six minutes long, during which patients respond verbally and non-verbally (motor commands) to simple questions such as ‘What is your name?’ and ‘What is the current year?’ Such questions are asked over multiple cycles during a single test,” described Dr. Yadav.

“Participant responses are recorded electronically on the watch and later scored by experimenters to quantify their level of responsiveness and memory. The test is triggered remotely (via a one-button push), using a study phone paired to the watch. Experimenters and monitor watchers in the video-EEG monitoring unit trigger ARTiE testing on the patient watch as soon as the patient has a seizure. The software app used for collecting this data also syncs it to the cloud storage for later analysis.”

This more standardized, quantitative measure of consciousness paves the way for more accurate diagnoses, more detailed insight into the relationship between clinical seizure characteristics and behavioral impairment, and more tailored, data-based treatment for patients.

Submitted by Allison Greco on August 07, 2023