Indexed on: 07 Aug '10Published on: 07 Aug '10Published in: Brain : a journal of neurology
Epileptic encephalopathy with continuous spikes and waves during slow sleep is an age-related disorder characterized by the presence of interictal epileptiform discharges during at least >85% of sleep and cognitive deficits associated with this electroencephalography pattern. The pathophysiological mechanisms of continuous spikes and waves during slow sleep and neuropsychological deficits associated with this condition are still poorly understood. Here, we investigated the haemodynamic changes associated with epileptic activity using simultaneous acquisitions of electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging in 12 children with symptomatic and cryptogenic continuous spikes and waves during slow sleep. We compared the results of magnetic resonance to electric source analysis carried out using a distributed linear inverse solution at two time points of the averaged epileptic spike. All patients demonstrated highly significant spike-related positive (activations) and negative (deactivations) blood oxygenation-level-dependent changes (P < 0.05, family-wise error corrected). The activations involved bilateral perisylvian region and cingulate gyrus in all cases, bilateral frontal cortex in five, bilateral parietal cortex in one and thalamus in five cases. Electrical source analysis demonstrated a similar involvement of the perisylvian brain regions in all patients, independent of the area of spike generation. The spike-related deactivations were found in structures of the default mode network (precuneus, parietal cortex and medial frontal cortex) in all patients and in caudate nucleus in four. Group analyses emphasized the described individual differences. Despite aetiological heterogeneity, patients with continuous spikes and waves during slow sleep were characterized by activation of the similar neuronal network: perisylvian region, insula and cingulate gyrus. Comparison with the electrical source analysis results suggests that the activations correspond to both initiation and propagation pathways. The deactivations in structures of the default mode network are consistent with the concept of epileptiform activity impacting on normal brain function by inducing repetitive interruptions of neurophysiological function.