The effects of brief seizures during development depend on multiple factors such as underlying brain pathology, specific age of occurrence and frequency. Studies in rats are frequently used to determine the consequences of seizures in the developing brain. The shorter prepubertal development and life span of the rat compared to humans may suggest that brief seizures in the rat are not necessarily equivalent to brief seizures in humans. Nevertheless, there is substantial evidence that in the rat, the consequences of seizures are age-dependent. The immature brain is relatively resistant to morphological damage, especially in the hippocampus, and functional changes as measured by electrophysiology and behavior. Developmental kindling can be used as a model to study brief seizures early in life. Kindling permanently alters the brain so that rats stimulated again in adulthood require only few kindling stimuli for fully kindled seizures to occur although there are no apparent morphological and functional changes in the hippocampus resulting from kindling early in life. The appreciation that kindling can alter brain function without any discrete (to date) morphological changes may lead to the development of effective neuroprotective strategies to alter the process, but it is not clear that all kindling-induced changes are detrimental to the brain.
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