The dream of epilepsy research, says neurobiologist Ivan Soltesz, is to stop seizures by manipulating only some brain cells, not all. Steve Zylius/UC Irvine Communications hide caption

itoggle caption Steve Zylius/UC Irvine Communications

A technique called optogenetics is being used in the laboratory to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time. Henning Dalhoff/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RM hide caption

itoggle caption Henning Dalhoff/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RM

Surgeons use a grid of electrodes laid on a patient's brain. They record electrical activity and can deliver a tiny jolt. Courtesy of Dr. Josef Parvizi hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Dr. Josef Parvizi

Gabapentin, sold under the brand name Neurontin, helps some people cut down on drinking. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com

In epilepsy, the normal behavior of brain neurons is disturbed. The drug valproic acid appears to help the brain replenish a key chemical, preventing seizures. David Mack/Science Source hide caption

itoggle caption David Mack/Science Source

Barton Holmes, 2, sits with his father, Kevin Holmes, and his mother, Catherine McEaddy Holmes, during an appointment at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Maggie Starbard/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Maggie Starbard/NPR