Aberrant Neuronal Avalanches in Cortical Tissue Removed From Juvenile Epilepsy Patients

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Some forms of epilepsy may arise as a result of pathologic interactions among neurons. Many forms of collective activity have been identified, including waves, spirals, oscillations, synchrony, and neuronal avalanches. All these emergent activity patterns have been hypothesized to show pathologic signatures associated with epilepsy. Here, the authors used 60-channel multielectrode arrays to record neuronal avalanches in cortical tissue removed from juvenile epilepsy patients. For comparison, they also recorded activity in rat cortical slices. The authors found that some human tissue removed from epilepsy patients exhibited prolonged periods of hyperactivity not seen in rat slices. In addition, they found a positive correlation between the branching parameter, a measure of network gain, and firing rate in human slices during periods of hyperactivity. This relationship was not present in rat slices. The authors suggest that this positive correlation between the branching parameter and the firing rate is part of a positive feedback loop and may contribute to some forms of epilepsy. These results also indicate that neuronal avalanches are abnormally regulated in slices removed from pediatric epilepsy patients.

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