Resting-state functional connectivity in epilepsy: growing relevance for clinical decision making

Curr Opin Neurol. 2015 Apr;28(2):158-65. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000178.


Purpose of review: Seizures produce dysfunctional, maladaptive networks, making functional connectivity an ideal technique for identifying complex brain effects of epilepsy. We review the current status of resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) research, highlighting its potential added value to epilepsy surgery programs.

Recent findings: RsFC research has demonstrated that the brain impact of seizures goes beyond the epileptogenic zone, changing connectivity patterns in widespread cortical regions. There is evidence for abnormal connectivity, but the degree to which these represent adaptive or maladaptive plasticity responses is unclear. Empirical associations with cognitive performance and psychiatric symptoms have helped understand deleterious impacts of seizures outside the epileptogenic zone. Studies in the prediction of outcome suggest that there are identifiable presurgical patterns of functional connectivity associated with a greater likelihood of positive cognitive or seizure outcomes.

Summary: The role of rsFC remains limited in most clinical settings, but shows great promise for identifying epileptic circuits and foci, predicting outcomes following surgery, and explaining cognitive deficits and psychiatric symptoms of epilepsy. RsFC has demonstrated that even focal epilepsies constitute a network and brain systems disorder. By providing a tool to both identify and characterize the brain network impact of epileptiform activity, rsFC can make a strong contribution to presurgical algorithms in epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Clinical Decision-Making*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / pathology*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology*