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Front Neurosci. 2018 Jul 31;12:474. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00474. eCollection 2018.

Expanding Brain-Computer Interfaces for Controlling Epilepsy Networks: Novel Thalamic Responsive Neurostimulation in Refractory Epilepsy.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Yale University School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, United States.
Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, United States.
Department of Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, United States.


Seizures have traditionally been considered hypersynchronous excitatory events and epilepsy has been separated into focal and generalized epilepsy based largely on the spatial distribution of brain regions involved at seizure onset. Epilepsy, however, is increasingly recognized as a complex network disorder that may be distributed and dynamic. Responsive neurostimulation (RNS) is a recent technology that utilizes intracranial electroencephalography (EEG) to detect seizures and delivers stimulation to cortical and subcortical brain structures for seizure control. RNS has particular significance in the clinical treatment of medically refractory epilepsy and brain-computer interfaces in epilepsy. Closed loop RNS represents an important step forward to understand and target nodes in the seizure network. The thalamus is a central network node within several functional networks and regulates input to the cortex; clinically, several thalamic nuclei are safe and feasible targets. We highlight the network theory of epilepsy, potential targets for neuromodulation in epilepsy and the first reported use of RNS as a first generation brain-computer interface to detect and stimulate the centromedian intralaminar thalamic nucleus in a patient with bilateral cortical onset of seizures. We propose that advances in network analysis and neuromodulatory techniques using brain-computer interfaces will significantly improve outcomes in patients with epilepsy. There are numerous avenues of future direction in brain-computer interface devices including multi-modal sensors, flexible electrode arrays, multi-site targeting, and wireless communication.


centromedian; epilepsy; hierarchical networks; responsive neurostimulation; seizures; thalamus

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