How epilepsy affects brain functional networks remains poorly understood. Here we investigated resting state functional connectivity of the temporal region in temporal lobe epilepsy. Thirty-two patients with unilateral temporal lobe epilepsy underwent resting state blood-oxygenation level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging. We defined regions of interest a priori focusing on structures involved, either structurally or metabolically, in temporal lobe epilepsy. These structures were identified in each patient based on their individual anatomy. Our principal findings are decreased local and inter-hemispheric functional connectivity and increased intra-hemispheric functional connectivity ipsilateral to the seizure focus compared to normal controls. Specifically, several regions in the affected temporal lobe showed increased functional coupling with the ipsilateral insula and immediately neighboring subcortical regions. Additionally there was significantly decreased functional connectivity between regions in the affected temporal lobe and their contralateral homologous counterparts. Intriguingly, decreased local and inter-hemispheric connectivity was not limited or even maximal for the hippocampus or medial temporal region, which is the typical seizure onset region. Rather it also involved several regions in temporal neo-cortex, while also retaining specificity, with neighboring regions such as the amygdala remaining unaffected. These findings support a view of temporal lobe epilepsy as a disease of a complex functional network, with alterations that extend well beyond the seizure onset area, and the specificity of the observed connectivity changes suggests the possibility of a functional imaging biomarker for temporal lobe epilepsy.
- Functional connectivity
- Temporal lobe