Excitability of neurons is a vital characteristic of the functioning of the brain. However, in a considerable fraction of the world population some form of excessive excitability leads to disorders such as migraine and epilepsy. The positive feedback that drive the system into an acute phase is relatively well understood in migraine with aura. In this disorder migraine attacks follow a scintillating visual distortion (the aura) corresponding to a wave of autonomous firing that slowly travels over the cortex known as a cortical spreading depression.
With Michel Ferrari and his team we work on understanding the onset of this phenomenon as a critical transition, and to find generic indicators of resilience of the brain that may serve as warning signals, but will also enhance our capacity to detect factors that cause this resilience to differ between persons and vary over time.
Migraine Strikes as Neuronal Excitability Reaches a Tipping Point
PLoS ONE 8 (8):art. no. e72514 [Full text]