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J Neurosci. 2008 Sep 3;28(36):9066-81. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2014-08.2008.

Remote effects of focal hippocampal seizures on the rat neocortex.

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Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Neurosci. 2009 Mar 25;29(12):3969.


Seizures have both local and remote effects on nervous system function. Whereas propagated seizures are known to disrupt cerebral activity, little work has been done on remote network effects of seizures that do not propagate. Human focal temporal lobe seizures demonstrate remote changes including slow waves on electroencephalography (EEG) and decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the neocortex. Ictal neocortical slow waves have been interpreted as seizure propagation; however, we hypothesize that they reflect a depressed cortical state resembling sleep or coma. To investigate this hypothesis, we performed multimodal studies of partial and secondarily generalized limbic seizures in rats. Video/EEG monitoring of spontaneous seizures revealed slow waves in the frontal cortex during behaviorally mild partial seizures, contrasted with fast polyspike activity during convulsive generalized seizures. Seizures induced by hippocampal stimulation produced a similar pattern, and were used to perform functional magnetic resonance imaging weighted for blood oxygenation and blood volume, demonstrating increased signals in hippocampus, thalamus and septum, but decreases in orbitofrontal, cingulate, and retrosplenial cortex during partial seizures, and increases in all of these regions during propagated seizures. Combining these results with neuronal recordings and CBF measurements, we related neocortical slow waves to reduced neuronal activity and cerebral metabolism during partial seizures, but found increased neuronal activity and metabolism during propagated seizures. These findings suggest that ictal neocortical slow waves represent an altered cortical state of depressed function, not propagated seizure activity. This remote effect of partial seizures may cause impaired cerebral functions, including loss of consciousness.

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