Scaling effects and spatio-temporal multilevel dynamics in epileptic seizures

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30371. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030371. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


Epileptic seizures are one of the most well-known dysfunctions of the nervous system. During a seizure, a highly synchronized behavior of neural activity is observed that can cause symptoms ranging from mild sensual malfunctions to the complete loss of body control. In this paper, we aim to contribute towards a better understanding of the dynamical systems phenomena that cause seizures. Based on data analysis and modelling, seizure dynamics can be identified to possess multiple spatial scales and on each spatial scale also multiple time scales. At each scale, we reach several novel insights. On the smallest spatial scale we consider single model neurons and investigate early-warning signs of spiking. This introduces the theory of critical transitions to excitable systems. For clusters of neurons (or neuronal regions) we use patient data and find oscillatory behavior and new scaling laws near the seizure onset. These scalings lead to substantiate the conjecture obtained from mean-field models that a Hopf bifurcation could be involved near seizure onset. On the largest spatial scale we introduce a measure based on phase-locking intervals and wavelets into seizure modelling. It is used to resolve synchronization between different regions in the brain and identifies time-shifted scaling laws at different wavelet scales. We also compare our wavelet-based multiscale approach with maximum linear cross-correlation and mean-phase coherence measures.

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cortical Synchronization
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Time Factors
  • Wavelet Analysis