Laboratory of Dr. Tracy Butler
NYU School of Medicine


Probabilistic maps of septal nuclei from Zaborszky, 2008.

Neuroplasticity / Septal forebrain

Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to change structurally and functionally in response to normal and abnormal events, including seizures. Many studies have shown that chronic epilepsy with recurrent seizures can lead to widespread loss of brain volume in animals and humans. Recently, we discovered using MRI that one particular region at the base of the brain – the septal forebrain – actually gets larger in some individuals with epilepsy. Because the septal forebrain is an important brain “pacemaker” that can regulate brain rhythms, dampen abnormal excitability and stop seizures, we believe our finding of septal enlargement in people with epilepsy represents MRI-detectable evidence of neuroplasticity/augmentation of a naturally antiepileptic brain region.

We describe these findings in this manuscript which will be published in the journal Neurology, and this abstract to be presented at the 2012 American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting in San Diego. We are in the process of conducting further studies using MRI, PET and histology to better understand the structure and connectivity of the human septal forebrain and the biological basis of septal enlargement in people with epilepsy.

This research is supported by the FACES Foundation.