Movement-activated cortical myoclonus in Dravet syndrome

Epilepsy Res. 2017 Feb:130:47-52. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2017.01.007. Epub 2017 Jan 19.


Purpose: we characterized multifocal myoclonus in Dravet syndrome (DS) that was never systematically typified before.

Methods: we studied EEG-EMG recordings of 19 consecutive patients, aged 2-29 years, with DS associated with SCN1A gene mutations to detect and evaluate myoclonus based on the spectrum of EMG activity on antagonist muscle pairs and cortico-muscular coherence (CMC).

Results: multifocal action myoclonus was detected in all patients corresponding to brief EMG bursts, which occurred synchronously on antagonist muscles at a frequency peaking in beta band. There was significant CMC in beta band, and a cortico-muscular transfer time consistent with a cortical origin of the jerks. The somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) were giant in only one patient who also showed exaggerated long-loop reflexes (LLRs). The nine patients who had experienced myoclonic seizures showed greater CMC.

Conclusions: The cortical myoclonus consistently observed in patients with DS shows features that are similar to those characterizing progressive myoclonus epilepsy, but differs because it does not have a severely worsening course and is not commonly associated with increased SSEPs or enhanced LLRs. This kind of myoclonus is an intrinsic feature of DS associated with SCN1A mutations, and may be a cause of disability.

Significance: We hypothesize that myoclonus is generated in cortical motor areas by hyper-synchronous oscillations, which are possibly due to sodium channel dysfunction.

Keywords: Cortical myoclonus; Cortico-muscolar coherence; Dravet syndrome; SCN1A mutations; Somatosensory evoked potentials; Spectral analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / genetics
  • Epilepsies, Myoclonic / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Myoclonus / physiopathology*
  • NAV1.1 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / genetics
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Young Adult


  • NAV1.1 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • SCN1A protein, human