The mapping of haemodynamic changes related to interictal epileptic discharges (IED) in simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) and functional MRI (fMRI) studies is usually carried out by means of EEG-correlated fMRI analyses where the EEG information specifies the model to test on the fMRI signal. The sensitivity and specificity critically depend on the accuracy of EEG detection and the validity of the haemodynamic model. In this study we investigated whether an information theoretic analysis based on the mutual information (MI) between the presence of epileptic activity on EEG and the fMRI data can provide further insights into the haemodynamic changes related to interictal epileptic activity. The important features of MI are that: 1) both recording modalities are treated symmetrically; 2) no requirement for a-priori models for the haemodynamic response function, or assumption of a linear relationship between the spiking activity and BOLD responses, and 3) no parametric model for the type of noise or its probability distribution is necessary for the computation of MI.Methods:
Fourteen patients with pharmaco-resistant focal epilepsy underwent EEG–fMRI and intracranial EEG and/or surgical resection with positive postoperative outcome (seizure freedom or considerable reduction in seizure frequency) was available in 7/14 patients. We used nonparametric statistical assessment of the MI maps based on a four-dimensional wavelet packet resampling method. The results of MI were compared to the statistical parametric maps obtained with two conventional General Linear Model (GLM) analyses based on the informed basis set (canonical HRF and its temporal and dispersion derivatives) and the Finite Impulse Response (FIR) models.Results:
The MI results were concordant with the electro-clinically or surgically defined epileptogenic area in 8/14 patients and showed the same degree of concordance as the results obtained with the GLM-based methods in 12 patients (7 concordant and 5 discordant). In one patient, the information theoretic analysis improved the delineation of the irritative zone compared with the GLM-based methods.Discussion:
Our findings suggest that an information theoretic analysis can provide clinically relevant information about the BOLD signal changes associated with the generation and propagation of interictal epileptic discharges. The concordance between the MI, GLM and FIR maps support the validity of the assumptions adopted in GLM-based analyses of interictal epileptic activity with EEG–fMRI in such a manner that they do not significantly constrain the localization of the epileptogenic zone.Highlights
▸ Use of Mutual Information to study interictal epileptic discharges with EEG-fMRI. ▸ Balance between modalities with no assumptions of linearity, HRF shape or gaussianity. ▸ Evaluated in 14 patients with focal epilepsy and compared with two GLM-based models. ▸ Adds clinically relevant information and supports main GLM assumptions for IED.