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Controlling epileptic brain networks with computationally optimized weak electric fields

Project description

Advancing the treatment of epilepsy

Epilepsy treatment fails in nearly one third of patients, leaving millions suffering from drug-resistant epileptic episodes. Non-invasive brain transcranial current stimulation (tCS) is emerging as a promising solution, but poor understanding of its short- and long-term effects limits its application. The EU-funded GALVANI project is investigating the impact weak electric fields have on the physiology of neurons and neural networks. The key objective is to understand if these electric pulses can improve the patient-specific epileptogenic network. The project will generate mechanistic insight that will be combined with computational models to develop personalised tCS protocols and prevent epileptic seizures.


Epilepsy is a neurological disorder affecting 65 million people worldwide. Pharmacological treatments or surgery are ineffective in one third of the cases – 19 million people. Recent findings indicate that non-invasive brain transcranial current stimulation (tCS) is safe and of therapeutic promise in epilepsy. However, it is not yet indicated as a standard treatment due to major scientific limitations: unknown mechanisms of action, insufficient account for patient-specific factors, poor understanding of short- and long-term effects.

Our ambition is to transform the care of a large fraction of patients living with drug-resistant epilepsies by solving a fundamental problem: to efficiently target and control large-scale epileptic brain networks with tCS-induced neuromodulatory weak electric fields.

To proceed, GALVANI’s synergetic research strategy addresses four interdisciplinary challenges: (1) Unravel the intricate relationship between weak electric fields and their neurophysiological effects at the level of neurons, neuronal assemblies and networks; (2) Maximize their therapeutic effects by altering the neurodynamics of patient-specific epileptogenic networks; (3) Develop optimal personalized neuromodulation protocols for novel multichannel tCS technologies; (4) Test optimized protocols in a cohort of patients and objectively define potential responders.

The required competences and resources are met in GALVANI, uniting the passion and background of three experts and their teams in biomathematics (computational neuroscience), biophysics (bioelectromagnetism) and medicine (epileptology).

The project vision is that critical features of pathological networks can be effectively captured in a new generation of hybrid computational models developed for tailored therapy. The inflection point is to prevent epileptic seizures from a bottom-up mechanistic understanding and control of tCS effects. This will entail a paradigm shift in epileptic disorders and beyond.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 3 240 111,25
75654 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 3 368 631,25

Beneficiaries (5)