Modulation of epileptic activity by deep brain stimulation: A model-based study of frequency-dependent effects

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A number of studies showed that deep brain stimulation (DBS) can modulate the activity in the epileptic brain and that a decrease of seizures can be achieved in 'responding' patients. In most of these studies, the choice of stimulation parameters is critical to obtain desired clinical effects. In particular, the stimulation frequency is a key parameter that is difficult to tune. A reason is that our knowledge about the frequency-dependant mechanisms according to which DBS indirectly impacts the dynamics of pathological neuronal systems located in the neocortex is still limited. We address this issue using both computational modeling and intracerebral EEG (iEEG) data. We developed a macroscopic (neural mass) model of the thalamocortical network. In line with already-existing models, it includes interconnected neocortical pyramidal cells and interneurons, thalamocortical cells and reticular neurons. The novelty was to introduce, in the thalamic compartment, the biophysical effects of direct stimulation. Regarding clinical data, we used a quite unique data set recorded in a patient (drug-resistant epilepsy) with a focal cortical dysplasia (FCD). In this patient, DBS strongly reduced the sustained epileptic activity of the FCD for low-frequency (LFS, < 2 Hz) and high-frequency stimulation (HFS, > 70 Hz) while intermediate-frequency stimulation (IFS, around 50 Hz) had no effect. Signal processing, clustering and optimization techniques allowed us to identify the necessary conditions for reproducing, in the model, the observed frequency-dependent stimulation effects. Key elements which explain the suppression of epileptic activity in the FCD include a) feed-forward inhibition and synaptic short-term depression of thalamocortical connections at LFS, and b) inhibition of the thalamic output at HFS. Conversely, modeling results indicate that IFS favors thalamic oscillations and entrains epileptic dynamics. © 2013 Mina, Benquet, Pasnicu, Biraben and Wendling.




Mina, F., Benquet, P., Pasnicu, A., Biraben, A., & Wendling, F. (2013). Modulation of epileptic activity by deep brain stimulation: A model-based study of frequency-dependent effects. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, (JUN).

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