New developments in understanding focal cortical malformations

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Purpose of review

Focal cortical dysplasias (FCDs) represent common cortical malformations that are frequently associated with epilepsy. They have so far not been well understood in terms of their molecular pathogenesis, and with respect to mechanisms of seizure emergence.

Recent findings

Several recent studies have succeeded in making significant advances in understanding the molecular genetics, in particular FCD type II. A second major advance has been the development of novel rodent models of FCDs that replicate a somatic mutation seen in humans, lead to a focal lesion, and recapitulate many phenotypic features of human FCDs. We will discuss these recent advances.


These advances promise significant advances in understanding the heterogeneity of FCDs at the molecular genetic level. They also promise a much better understanding of cell-intrinsic and network mechanisms underlying increased seizure susceptibility and altered cognition. Systematic studies utilizing the approaches summarized here promise to lead to specific strategies regarding when and how to treat specific subgroups of FCDs.

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