We formulate a conductance-based model for a 3-neuron motif associated with Childhood Absence Epilepsy (CAE). The motif consists of neurons from the thalamic relay (TC) and reticular nuclei (RT) and the cortex (CT). We focus on a genetic defect common to the mouse homolog of CAE which is associated with loss of GABAA receptors on the TC neuron, and the fact that myelination of axons as children age can increase the conduction velocity between neurons. We show the combination of low GABAA mediated inhibition of TC neurons and the long corticothalamic loop delay gives rise to a variety of complex dynamics in the motif, including bistability. This bistability disappears as the corticothalamic conduction delay shortens even though GABAA activity remains impaired. Thus the combination of deficient GABAA activity and changing axonal myelination in the corticothalamic loop may be sufficient to account for the clinical course of CAE.
Keywords: Childhood absence epilepsy; Time delay.