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Septum keeps neurons in synch, can reduce epileptic seizures by 90 percent

Septum sets the tempo of brain's electrical activity

BETHESDA, MD (June 20, 2006) - The brain's septum helps prevent epileptic seizures by inducing rhythmical electrical activity in the circuits of another area of the brain known as the hippocampus, according to a new study in the Journal of Neurophysiology. The researchers found that, by imposing a normal "theta" rhythm on chronically epileptic rats, they could reduce epileptic seizures by 86-97 percent.

The study "Septo-hippocampal networks in chronically epileptic rats: Potential antiepileptic effects of theta rhythm generation," by Luis V. Colom, Antonio Garca-Hernndez, Maria T. Castaeda, Miriam G. Perez-Cordova and Emilio R. Garrido-Sanabria, The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College, appears in the June issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology, published by The American Physiological Society.

The septum acts as the conductor, orchestrating brain impulses as they pass from the brain stem through the septum and on to the hippocampus, said the study's lead researcher, Luis V. Colom, of the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. The hippocampus is a part of the brain that plays a role in memory, spatial navigation and sensory motor integration, among other functions.

Normally, the hippocampus oscillates at a frequency of 3-12 Hz, a frequency that is called the theta rhythm, Colom explained. Oscillations at theta frequency are important in processing and storing relevant sensory information and appears important to certain memory processes.

"My hypothesis is that the septum keeps the electrical activity of neurons within certain areas of the brain working within normal ranges," Colom said. "By keeping the neurons firing normally, the septum inhibits neuronal hyperexcitability, such as epilepsy, and hypoexcitablity, such as Alzheimer's disease." In addition, septal impulses may help to maintain the anatomical integrity of other
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Contact: Christine Guilfoy
cguilfoy@the-aps.org
301-634-7253
American Physiological Society
20-Jun-2006


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