Researchers have developed a “brain training” technique that is aimed mainly at the 30 per cent of epilepsy patients who are resistant to traditional drug treatment.
One in 100 people suffer with epilepsy – 50 million people worldwide – and about half of those taking part in clinical trials reported the technique reduced seizures by 50 per cent or more.
Invented by Dr Yoko Nagai, Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, run jointly by the universities of Brighton and Sussex, and University College London, the technique is seen as an alternative to medication by teaching patients to train their brains to be more alert.
Previous mental techniques have been aimed at relaxing the brain to reduce seizures but her research found the opposite was true – that training patients to increase their levels of alertness actually helped them to calm their brain and reduce seizures.
Using an animated computer programme that responds to a person’s level of alertness, volunteers were shown how to increase their alertness by learning to move a computer-generated animated figure towards a desired goal.