Modern functional neuroimaging provides opportunities to visualize activity of the entire brain, making it an indispensable diagnostic tool for epilepsy. Various forms of noninvasive functional neuroimaging are now also being performed as research tools in animal models of epilepsy and provide opportunities for parallel animal/human investigations into fundamental mechanisms of epilepsy and identification of epilepsy biomarkers. Recent animal studies of epilepsy using positron emission tomography, tractography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging were reviewed. Epilepsy is an abnormal emergent property of disturbances in neuronal networks which, even for epilepsies characterized by focal seizures, involve widely distributed systems, often in both hemispheres. Functional neuroimaging in animal models now provides opportunities to examine neuronal disturbances in the whole brain that underlie generalized and focal seizure generation as well as various types of epileptogenesis. Tremendous advances in understanding the contribution of specific properties of widely distributed neuronal networks to both normal and abnormal human behavior have been provided by current functional neuroimaging methodologies. Successful application of functional neuroimaging of the whole brain in the animal laboratory now permits investigations during epileptogenesis and correlation with deep brain electroencephalography (EEG) activity. With the continuing development of these techniques and analytical methods, the potential for future translational research on epilepsy is enormous.
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