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Behav Brain Res. 2003 Aug 14;143(2):141-6.

Ictal stimulus processing during spike-wave discharges in genetic epileptic rats.

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Department of Biological Psychology, Nijmegen Institute of Cognition and Information, University of Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


In the present experiment it was investigated whether and to what extent auditory information processing is possible during the presence of spike-wave discharges in rats. To that end, WAG/Rij rats which are an animal model for absence epilepsy, were provided with cortical electrodes for the registration of the electroencephalogram (EEG). The animals were first trained in an appetitively motivated conditioning paradigm to learn to discriminate between two auditory stimuli with equal duration and frequency but with different intensities. Next, the stimuli were presented in the test phase in pseudorandom order during spike-wave discharges. The reactivity of the ongoing EEG was analysed. It was found that the presentation of the reinforced stimulus induced a larger number of aborted spike-wave discharges than the non-reinforced stimulus, regardless of the intensity of the stimuli. This implies that during generalised spike-wave discharges the brain is still capable of evaluating the meaning of an ictally presented stimulus. It also shows that sensory, attentional and mnemonic processes are at least partially intact during the occurrence of a spike-wave discharge. The results of the present study are largely in agreement with results on human spike-wave activity-related cognitive disturbances. Moreover, they may lead to a refinement of the concept of epileptic consciousness and may emphasise the heuristic value of rodent models for studying both ictal and interictal information processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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