The purpose of this study is to propose and investigate a new approach for discriminating between focal and non-focal hemispheres in intractable temporal lobe epilepsy, based on applying multivariate time series analysis to the discharge-free background brain activity observed in nocturnal electrocorticogram (ECoG) time series. Five unilateral focal patients and one bilateral focal patient were studied. In order to detect the location of epileptic foci, linear multivariate autoregressive (MAR) models were fitted to the ECoG data; as a new approach for the purpose of summarizing these models in a single relevant parameter, the behavior of the corresponding impulse response functions was studied and described by an attenuation coefficient. In the majority of unilateral focal patients, the averaged attenuation coefficient was found to be almost always significantly larger in the focal hemisphere, as compared to the non-focal hemisphere. Also the amplitude of the fluctuations of the attenuation coefficient was significantly larger in the focal hemisphere. Moreover, in one patient showing a typical regular sleep cycle, the attenuation coefficient in the focal hemisphere tended to be larger during REM sleep and smaller during Non-REM sleep. In the bilateral focal patient, no statistically significant distinction between the hemispheres was found. This study provides encouraging results for new investigations of brain dynamics by multivariate parametric modeling. It opens up the possibility of relating diseases like epilepsy to the properties of inconspicuous background brain dynamics, without the need to record and analyze epileptic seizures or other evidently pathological waveforms.
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