A new research finding is published in The Journal of Physiology. In this study, the researchers used a mouse model to show that in childhood absence epilepsy, brain activity is perturbed between seizures. They relate this to the underlying cognitive problems of the disease and assume this to persist despite treating seizures.
In absence seizures, the individual experience a short period of "blanking out" or stare into space which is thought to be due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. According to the new study, the brain activity abnormalities seen in earlier studies persisted in the mice despite treatment of seizures. This finding provides a significant evidence for the continued deficits in cognitive function in children with absence epilepsy, despite potential cure of their seizures.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) measures the electrical activity in the brain; this is mainly used to detect seizures, rather than cognitive impairment analysis. Exploring the EEG activity between seizures makes it easier for the diagnosis and monitoring of cognitive and other attention deficits in epilepsy, the researchers suggest.
The team led by Jeffrey Noebels used two genetic mouse models of absence epilepsy and compared them to unaffected mice. Further, the mice that were not experiencing seizures were analyzed using the EEG. After analyzing the mice both prior and after administering medications that either eliminated or exacerbated their seizures, the researchers found an abnormality in brain activity in both conditions.
The human studies showed the link between these abnormalities and attention deficits, but behavioral tests data was missing. If researchers conduct further behavioral studies in mice and humans, their findings may help in treating the abnormalities in parallel with seizures.
'We plan to evaluate whether the abnormalities we found are associated with deficits in attention in these and other mouse models. In addition, we plan to treat these mice with standard treatments for attention deficit disorder such as Ritalin and determine whether the behavior and the EEG abnormalities can be corrected,’ Atul Maheshwari, the first author of the study reported.
Exploring the EEG activity between seizures makes it easier for the diagnosis and monitoring of cognitive and other attention deficits in epilepsy