EEG/fMRI contributions to our understanding of genetic generalized epilepsies

Benjamin Kay, Jerzy P. Szaflarski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The first reports of combined EEG and fMRI used for evaluation of epileptic spikes date back to the mid-90s. At that time, the technique was called EEG-triggered fMRI - the "triggered" corresponded to an epilepsy specialist reviewing live EEG while the patient was located in the scanner; after the spike was identified, a scan was initiated to collect the data. Since then major progress has been made in combined EEG/fMRI data collection and analyses. These advances allow studying the electrophysiology of genetic generalized epilepsies (GGEs) in vivo in greater detail than ever. In addition to continuous data collection, we now have better methods for removing physiologic and fMRI-related artifacts, more advanced understanding of the hemodynamic response functions, and better computational methods to address the questions regarding the origins of the epileptiform discharge generators in patients with GGEs. These advances have allowed us to examine numerous cohorts of children and adults with GGEs while not only looking for spike and wave generators but also examining specific types of GGEs (e.g., juvenile myoclonic epilepsy or childhood absence epilepsy), drug-naïve patients, effects of medication resistance, or effects of epileptiform abnormalities and/or seizures on brain connectivity. While the discussion is ongoing, the prevailing thought is that the GGEs as a group are a network disorder with participation from multiple nodes including the thalami and cortex with the clinical presentation depending on which node of the participating network is affected by the disease process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-135
Number of pages7
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Connectivity
  • Electroencephalography / functional magnetic resonance imaging (EEG/fMRI)
  • Generalized spike and wave discharges (GSWDs)
  • Genetic generalized epilepsies (GGE)
  • Juvenile absence epilepsy (JAE)
  • Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME)
  • Review


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