A paper published today in Scientific Reports suggests that a mathematical model representation of the human brain can identify the regions of the brain most critical in the generation of seizures, and that these should be the target of surgery. The study led by Marc Goodfellow from the Centre for Biomedical Modelling and Analysis and the EPSRC Centre for Predictive Modelling in Healthcare at the University of Exeter applied the developed methods to pre-surgical data of 16 people who underwent elective surgery in Switzerland.
The researchers found that people who had a good surgical outcome (e.g. the number of seizures they had went down to 0 or nearly 0), regions of the brain removed by the surgeons mapped onto those predicted by the model as leading to a good outcome. In contrast, for people who had a poor surgical outcome (e.g. their number of seizures did not decrease significantly), regions of the brain removed by the surgeons did not correlate well with those predicted by the model as leading to a good outcome.
The authors now plan to validate the model in a prospective study, but what form should that study take?
Would you like your surgeon's decision making to be guided by a computer representation of your brain? It is an interesting ethical and philosophical question.
The paper is available to download from Scientific Reports website.