In the last 10 years we have been using functional MRI (fMRI) at Epilepsy Society's Chalfont Centre to map where different functions such as language and vision occur in the brain. For example our research has enabled us to see exactly which part of the brain we use if we want to think of words, name objects or describe a picture. This ability to visualise the communication and thought networks in the brain is enabling us to protect these during surgery and assess how some medications may affect our speech and cognitive abilities.
Despite advances in technology, around 30 per cent of people with seizures arising from one part of the brain have completely normal MRI scans. We are assessing several new MRI techniques to determine which are helpful in identifying the source of seizures in people with severe epilepsy and normal standard scans. We hope these developments will enable a larger proportion of people with epilepsy to undergo surgery and be cured or their epilepsy significantly improved.