Why seizures spontaneously terminate remains an unanswered fundamental question of epileptology. Here we present evidence that seizures self-terminate via a discontinuous critical transition or bifurcation. We show that human brain electrical activity at various spatial scales exhibits common dynamical signatures of an impending critical transition - slowing, increased correlation, and flickering - in the approach to seizure termination. In contrast, prolonged seizures (status epilepticus) repeatedly approach, but do not cross, the critical transition. To support these results, we implement a computationalmodel that demonstrates that alternative stable attractors, representing the ictal and postictal states,emulate the observed dynamics. These results suggest that self-terminating seizures end through a common dynamical mechanism. This description constrains the specific biophysical mechanisms underlying seizure termination, suggests a dynamical understanding of status epilepticus, anddemonstrates an accessible systemfor studying critical transitions in nature.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Dec 18 2012|
- Critical slowing down
- Local field potential
ASJC Scopus subject areas