A systems-level approach to human epileptic seizures

Neuroinformatics. 2013 Apr;11(2):159-73. doi: 10.1007/s12021-012-9161-2.


Epileptic seizures are due to the pathological collective activity of large cellular assemblies. A better understanding of this collective activity is integral to the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. In contrast to reductionist analyses, which focus solely on small-scale characteristics of ictogenesis, here we follow a systems-level approach, which combines both small-scale and larger-scale analyses. Peri-ictal dynamics of epileptic networks are assessed by studying correlation within and between different spatial scales of intracranial electroencephalographic recordings (iEEG) of a heterogeneous group of patients suffering from pharmaco-resistant epilepsy. Epileptiform activity as recorded by a single iEEG electrode is determined objectively by the signal derivative and then subjected to a multivariate analysis of correlation between all iEEG channels. We find that during seizure, synchrony increases on the smallest and largest spatial scales probed by iEEG. In addition, a dynamic reorganization of spatial correlation is observed on intermediate scales, which persists after seizure termination. It is proposed that this reorganization may indicate a balancing mechanism that decreases high local correlation. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that during epileptic seizures hypercorrelated and therefore functionally segregated brain areas are re-integrated into more collective brain dynamics. In addition, except for a special sub-group, a highly significant association is found between the location of ictal iEEG activity and the location of areas of relative decrease of localised EEG correlation. The latter could serve as a clinically important quantitative marker of the seizure onset zone (SOZ).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Statistics, Nonparametric