As a pediatric epileptologist, the goal of Dr. Zempel’s research is to improve the localization of neuronal activity through new imaging modalities that are translatable to humans. By studying a model system of partial seizures which has been adapted to the magnetic resonance environment, allowing the measurement of electrical signals concurrent with imaging. Using conventional and newly developed magnetic resonance techniques, Dr. Zempel and his colleagues have localized ongoing seizure activity and characterized the damage that occurs with seizures. He is also characterizing and utilizing new magnetic resonance contrast agents with the goal of using such an agent to localize seizure activity to provide a major advance in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.
A second focus of Dr. Zempel’s research is the quantitative characterization of electrical activity directly recorded from the human brain as part of an evaluation for epilepsy surgery. The ready availability of increasing computational power makes analysis of the characteristics of brain activity feasible in the time frame of the surgery evaluation. Such techniques focus on seizure detection, prediction and characterization of the zone of abnormal brain tissue.