Enhanced frontocentral EEG connectivity in photosensitive generalized epilepsies: a partial directed coherence study

Giulia Varotto, Elisa Visani, Laura Canafoglia, Silvana Franceschetti, Giuliano Avanzini, Ferruccio Panzica
Epilepsia 2012, 53 (2): 359-67

PURPOSE: Photosensitive epilepsy (PSE) is the most common form of reflex epilepsy presenting with electroencephalography (EEG) paroxysms elicited by intermittent photic stimulation (IPS). To investigate whether the neuronal network undergoes dynamic changes before and during the transition to an EEG epileptic discharge, we estimated EEG connectivity patterns in photosensitive (PS) patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy.

METHODS: EEG signals were evaluated under resting conditions and during 14 Hz IPS, a frequency that consistently induces photoparoxysmal responses (PPRs) in PS patients. Partial directed coherence (PDC), a linear measure of effective connectivity based on multivariate autoregressive models, was used in 10 PS patients and 10 controls. Anterior versus posterior (F3, F4, C3, C4, and P3, P4, O1, O2) and interhemispheric connectivity patterns (F4, C4, P4, O2, and F3, C3, P3, O1) were estimated with focus on beta and gamma band activity.

KEY FINDINGS: PDC analysis revealed an enhanced connectivity pattern in terms of both the number and strength of outflow connections in the PS patient group. Under resting condition, the greater connectivity in the PS patients occurred in the beta band, whereas it mainly involved the gamma band during IPS (i.e., the frequencies ranging from 40-60 Hz that include the higher harmonics of the stimulus frequency). Both at rest and during IPS, the differences between the PS patients and controls were due primarily to clearly increased connectivity involving the anterior cortical regions.

SIGNIFICANCE: Our findings indicate that PS patients are characterised by abnormal EEG hyperconnectivity, primarily involving the anterior cortical regions under resting conditions and during IPS. This suggests that, even if the occipital cortical regions are the recipient zone of the stimulus and probably hyperexcitable, the anterior cortical areas are prominently involved in generating the hypersynchronization underlying the spike-and wave discharges elicited by IPS.

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