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Epilepsia. 2009 Aug;50 Suppl 7:4-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2009.02209.x.

Encephalopathy with status epilepticus during slow sleep: "the Penelope syndrome".

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Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


ESES (encephalopathy with status epilepticus during sleep) is an epileptic encephalopathy with heterogeneous clinical manifestations (cognitive, motor, and behavioral disturbances in different associations, and various seizure types) related to a peculiar electroencephalography (EEG) pattern characterized by paroxysmal activity significantly activated during slow sleep-that is, a condition of continuous spikes and waves, or status epilepticus, during sleep. The pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying this condition are still incompletely understood; recent data suggest that the abnormal epileptic EEG activity occurring during sleep might cause the typical clinical symptoms by interfering with sleep-related physiologic functions, and possibly neuroplasticity processes mediating higher cortical functions such as learning and memory consolidation. As in the myth of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, what is weaved during the day will be unraveled during the night.

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