Objective Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) are paroxysmal events that, in contrast to epileptic seizures, are related to psychological causes without the presence of epileptiform EEG changes. Recent models suggest a multifactorial basis for PNES. A potentially paramount, but currently poorly understood factor is the interplay between psychiatric features and a specific vulnerability of the brain leading to a clinical picture that resembles epilepsy. Hypothesising that functional cerebral network abnormalities may predispose to the clinical phenotype, the authors undertook a characterisation of the functional connectivity in PNES patients.
Methods The authors analysed the whole-head surface topography of multivariate phase synchronisation (MPS) in interictal high-density EEG of 13 PNES patients as compared with 13 age- and sex-matched controls. MPS mapping reduces the wealth of dynamic data obtained from high-density EEG to easily readable synchronisation maps, which provide an unbiased overview of any changes in functional connectivity associated with distributed cortical abnormalities. The authors computed MPS maps for both Laplacian and common-average-reference EEGs.
Results In a between-group comparison, only patchy, non-uniform changes in MPS survived conservative statistical testing. However, against the background of these unimpressive group results, the authors found widespread inverse correlations between individual PNES frequency and MPS within the prefrontal and parietal cortices.
Interpretation PNES appears to be associated with decreased prefrontal and parietal synchronisation, possibly reflecting dysfunction of networks within these regions.
- Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES)
- multivariate phase synchronisation
- frontal lobe
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MGK and MJ contributed equally.
Competing interersts None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval All subjects provided informed consent in accordance with the guidelines of the local Ethics Committee of Lausanne University. All the applied procedures conform to the Declaration of Helsinki (1964) of the World Medical Association concerning human experimentation. PNES was diagnosed according to recent recommendations.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.