It is currently believed that the mechanisms underlying spindle oscillations are related to those that generate spike and wave (SW) discharges. The mechanisms of transition between these two types of activity, however, are not well understood. In order to provide more insight into the dynamics of the neuronal networks leading to seizure generation in a rat experimental model of absence epilepsy we developed a computational model of thalamo-cortical circuits based on relevant (patho)physiological data. The model is constructed at the macroscopic level since this approach allows to investigate dynamical properties of the system and the role played by different mechanisms in the process of seizure generation, both at short and long time scales. The main results are the following: (i) SW discharges represent dynamical bifurcations that occur in a bistable neuronal network; (ii) the durations of paroxysmal and normal epochs have exponential distributions, indicating that transitions between these two stable states occur randomly over time with constant probabilities; (iii) the probabilistic nature of the onset of paroxysmal activity implies that it is not possible to predict its occurrence; (iv) the bistable nature of the dynamical system allows that an ictal state may be aborted by a single counter-stimulus.
Copyright 2004 IBRO