Two decades ago, neurologist Ivan Osorio realized that he and his peers were stuck. Specifically, they were "making little progress" understanding "one of medicine's most intriguing intellectual challenges" - sudden, often debilitating surges of brain electrical activity known as epileptic seizures.

So Osorio decided to look outside clinical medicine. He discovered that seizures share similarities with a much larger phenomenon: earthquakes. He reasoned that laws describing earthquake behavior could, when applied to the brain, reveal new clues about what happens during epileptic seizures.

What can earthquakes tell us about seizures?

Osorio, who directs the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, made the connection between seizures and earthquakes in a sort of roundabout way. The world's most prevalent neurological disorder, epilepsy affects some 60 million people worldwide. To understand the relationship between abnormal brain wave activity and full-blown seizures, Osorio reviewed a 1967 Nature...

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