John Zempel, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology



Additional Titles

  • Associate Professor, Pediatrics
  • Director, EEG Laboratories, St. Louis Children's Hospital

Board Certifications

  • Child Neurology - Certified
  • Neurology - Certified

Related Links


  • Listed in Best Doctors in America, 2011-2013 (Best Doctors, Inc.)


  • Zempel JM, Mano T. Myoclonic atonic epilepsy: Another generalized epilepsy syndrome that is “not so” generalized. Neurology. 2014 Apr 29;82(17):1486-7.
  • Guilliams K, Rosen M, Buttram S, Zempel J, Pineda J, Miller B, Shoykhet M. Hypothermia for pediatric refractory status epilepticus. Epilepsia. 2013 Sep;54(9):1586-94.
  • Srinivasakumar P, Zempel J, Wallendorf M, Lawrence R, Inder T, Mathur A. Therapeutic hypothermia in neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy: electrographic seizures and magnetic resonance imaging evidence of injury. J Pediatr. 2013 Aug;163(2):465-70.
  • Mitchell TJ, Neil JJ, Zempel JM, Thio LL, Inder TE, Bretthorst GL. Automating the analysis of EEG recordings from prematurely-born infants: a Bayesian approach. Clin Neurophysiol. 2013 Mar;124(3):452-61.
  • Zempel JM, Politte DG, Kelsey M, Verner R, Nolan TS, Babajani-Feremi A, Prior F, Larson-Prior LJ. Characterization of scale-free properties of human electrocorticography in awake and slow wave sleep States. Front Neurol. 2012 Jun 12;3:76.
  • Kelsey M, Politte D, Verner R, Zempel JM, Nolan T, Babajani-Feremi A, Prior F, Larson-Prior LJ. Determination of neural state classification metrics from the power spectrum of human ECoG. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2012;2012:4336-40.
  • Larson-Prior LJ, Power JD, Vincent JL, Nolan TS, Coalson RS, Zempel J, Snyder AZ, Schlaggar BL, Raichle ME, Petersen SE. Modulation of the brain’s functional network architecture in the transition from wake to sleep. Prog Brain Res. 2011;193:277-94.
  • Breshears JD, Gaona CM, Roland JL, Sharma M, Anderson NR, Bundy DT, Freudenburg ZV, Smyth MD, Zempel J, Limbrick DD, Smart WD, Leuthardt EC. Decoding motor signals from the pediatric cortex: implications for brain-computer interfaces in children. Pediatrics. 2011 Jul;128(1):e160-8.
  • He BJ, Zempel JM, Snyder AZ, Raichle ME. The temporal structures and functional significance of scale-free brain activity. Neuron. 2010 May 13;66(3):353-69.
  • Shah DK, Zempel J, Barton T, Lukas K, Inder TE. Electrographic seizures in preterm infants during the first week of life are associated with cerebral injury. Pediatr Res. 2010 Jan;67(1):102-6.
  • Lawrence R, Mathur A, Nguyen The Tich S, Zempel J, Inder T. A pilot study of continuous limited-channel aEEG in term infants with encephalopathy. J Pediatr. 2009 Jun;154(6):835-41.e1.
  • Larson-Prior LJ, Zempel JM, Nolan TS, Prior FW, Snyder AZ, Raichle ME. Cortical network functional connectivity in the descent to sleep. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 17;106(11):4489-94.
  • Mathur AM, Morris LD, Teteh F, Inder TE, Zempel J. Utility of prolonged bedside amplitude-integrated encephalogram in encephalopathic infants. Am J Perinatol. 2008 Nov;25(10):611-5.
  • He BJ, Snyder AZ, Zempel JM, Smyth MD, Raichle ME. Electrophysiological correlates of the brain’s intrinsic large-scale functional architecture. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Oct 14;105(41):16039-44.
  • Johnston JM, Vaishnavi SN, Smyth MD, Zhang D, He BJ, Zempel JM, Shimony JS, Snyder AZ, Raichle ME. Loss of resting interhemispheric functional connectivity after complete section of the corpus callosum. J Neurosci. 2008 Jun 18;28(25):6453-8

Dr. Zemple is the Director of the EEG Laboratories at St. Louis Children’s Hospital

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.