Epilepsy Talk

An Earbud to Predict Seizures? | May 4, 2014

Imagine a tiny, unobtrusive brain monitor — like an earbud or a hearing aid — that could read brainwaves through the ear.

Amazing as it sounds, this tiny device could help predict seizures and track daily seizures in people with uncontrolled epilepsy, according to a small pilot study.

Engineers at Imperial College in London have developed exactly that. An EEG device that can be worn inside the ear, like a hearing aid.

They say the device will allow scientists to record EEGs for several days at a time. This would allow doctors to monitor patients who have regularly recurring seizures.

The device is limited by the fact that it’s best at recording activity from the region it’s attached to, the temporal lobe, but an ear-based EEG has other advantages.

Having a device that fits right in the ear makes it easier to keep the electrodes in the same spot for accurate readings, and reduces the signal noise created by body movement.

The wearer can still hear through it, making it an inconspicuous way to monitor the brain activity of people who have daily seizures.

By nestling the EEG inside the ear, the engineers avoid a lot of signal noise usually introduced by body movement. And it allows researchers to record EEG data over multiple days, even as patients move around.

They can also ensure that the electrodes are always placed in exactly the same spot which, they say, will make repeated readings more reliable.

“The ideal is to have a very stable recording system, and recordings which are repeatable,” explains co-creator Dr. Danilo Mandic.

“It’s not interfering with your normal life, because there are acoustic vents so people can hear. After a while, they forget they’re having an EEG.”

Also, an Israeli start-up called HeadSense, has developed a pair of earbuds which claims it can monitor pressure inside the human skull.

These earbuds are made of medical-grade EEG sensors to capture brain activity 2,000 times per second and a Bluetooth radio to shoot your thoughts to the smartphone, tablet, or PC of your choice.

HeadSense’s earbuds work by emitting low-frequency sounds and monitoring changes in the sound waves as they pass through the brain.

Increased pressure causes blood flow in the brain to decrease.

And according to HeadSense, the corresponding narrowing of the blood vessels causes the sounds to raise in pitch.

This data is fed wirelessly to the device of your choice which performs the calculations to convert the measurements into a pressure reading.

It all sounds pretty amazing.

And of course, for patients who don’t respond to drugs, it could be a triumph.

But larger trials are needed, before these earbuds become an approved FDA reality.

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  1. that would be cool, it would letcha know you’re about to crash the garage or play pinball on the highway side rails


    Comment by Alan Bishop — May 4, 2014 @ 12:45 PM

  2. No jokes about crashing the garage, sir.

    I am now benched, because I went into the back wall of my garage.

    Without earbuds! 😉


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 4, 2014 @ 2:54 PM

    • I still wonder why your dr stuck his nose into something happening on your own property! Where does it end?


      Comment by charlie — May 4, 2014 @ 4:52 PM

      • BIG brother is watching you.

        The reason I went at all was because of the seizure the night before. Then I mentioned the garage wall.

        The PA claimed I hadn’t had a seizure the night before, but there was something definitely wrong when I blew through the garage.

        I think I did have a seizure the night before and Sally thinks I had an absence when I kissed the garage wall.

        All I know is, I remember zero from the time I pressed the garage button to the time I was screaming and yelling at the air bag.

        P.S. The car was still in drive. 😦


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 4, 2014 @ 5:54 PM

    • sorry about that. i’m also benched by my wife for bouncing off the rail by the highway when i had a seizure driving home last thanksgiving.


      Comment by Alan Bishop — May 4, 2014 @ 10:28 PM

  3. Don’t be sorry, Alan. I was just yanking your chain.

    But, I guess that’s why you referred to playing pinball on the highway side rails.

    But look on the bright side. Better your wife than the DMV.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 5, 2014 @ 10:13 AM

  4. Wow, I work in an Epilepsy Foundation and my boss will be happy to hear this. An Earbud to Predict Seizures? Its really cool. I hope FDA make approve of it coz it’ll help a lot.


    Comment by Okotete Vicky — May 7, 2014 @ 5:22 PM

  5. Fingers crossed! :-)

    Which Epilepsy Foundation office / region do you work in?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 7, 2014 @ 5:50 PM

  6. wow that is great


    Comment by thegamesmybrainplays — June 7, 2014 @ 8:10 PM

  7. Once it becomes a reality, it will be even greater!

    P.S.Your website looks VERY cool…


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 7, 2014 @ 10:51 PM

  8. […] The article is by Aviva Hope Rutkin, but Phylis discussed it in her epilepsy blog: https://epilepsytalk.com/2014/05/04/a…dict-seizures/ […]


    Pingback by [Info] A chance for a long EEG study without being cooped up - Epilepsy Forum — July 14, 2014 @ 11:57 AM

  9. Did they just come with this,I wonder how many people go get one if it get,s approved. I heard of then helping to hear, but for seizurs,s .


    Comment by michele metzger — March 24, 2016 @ 6:58 PM

  10. It’s pretty exciting for epilepsy, but still in the research stage.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 24, 2016 @ 7:01 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I've also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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