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Epilepsy Res. 2018 Feb;140:97-104. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2018.01.006. Epub 2018 Jan 5.

A pilot study of the role of the claustrum in attention and seizures in rats.

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Department of Neurology, George Washington University, Washington, DC, 20037, USA.
Department of Neurology, University Hospitals Case Medical, Cleveland, OH, 44106, USA.
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20057, USA.
Department of Neurology, George Washington University, Washington, DC, 20037, USA. Electronic address:



The claustrum has been implicated in consciousness, and MRIs of patients with status epilepticus have shown increased claustral signal intensity. In an attempt to investigate the role of claustrum in cognition and seizures, we (1) assessed the effect of high-frequency stimulation (HFS) of the claustrum on performance in the operant chamber; (2) studied interclaustral and claustrohippocampal connectivity through cerebro-cerebral evoked potentials (CCEPs); and (3) investigated the role of claustrum in kainate-induced (KA) seizures.


Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained in operant conditioning and implanted with electrodes in bilateral claustra and hippocampi. Claustrum HFS (50 Hz) was delivered bilaterally and unilaterally with increasing intensities from 50 to 1000 μA, and performance scores were assessed. CCEPs were studied by averaging the responses to bipolar stimulations, 1-ms wide pulses at 0.1 Hz to the claustrum. KA seizures were analyzed on video-EEG recordings.


Generalized Estimating Equations analysis revealed that claustral stimulation reduced task performance scores relative to rest sessions (bilateral: -15.8 percentage points, p < 0.0001; unilateral: -15.2, p < 0.0001). With some stimulations, the rats showed a stimulus-locked decrease in attentiveness and, occasionally, an inability to complete the operant task. CCEPs demonstrated interclaustral and claustrohippocampal connectivity. Some KA seizures appeared to originate from the claustrum.


Findings from the operant conditioning task suggest stimulation of the claustrum can alter attention or awareness. CCEPs demonstrated connectivity between the two claustra and between the claustrum and the hippocampi. Such connectivity may be part of the circuitry that underlies the alteration of awareness in limbic seizures. Lastly, KA seizures showed early involvement of the claustrum, a finding that also supports a possible role of the claustrum in the alteration of consciousness that accompanies dyscognitive seizures.


Attention; Claustrum; Connectivity; Consciousness; Electrical stimulation; Epilepsy

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