A high-resolution interface reveals the brain storms of people suffering seizures.

On his cell phone, Jonathan Viventi, a biomedical engineer at New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, displays what looks like a meteorologist’s map of a fast-moving storm: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue patches swirl in ominous, complex patterns. In fact, the video represents the highest-resolution electrical data yet recorded over a large surface of an animal’s brain during an epileptic seizure.

Previously, researchers using lower-resolution technology had observed repetitive spiking patterns during seizures. But those recordings were “vastly undersampling the electrical activity of the brain,” says Viventi. His innovation was to develop a better interface that could capture more detail, revealing patterns of waves rotating, changing direction, and moving across the brain’s surface.

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