Functional network alterations and their structural substrate in drug-resistant epilepsy

Caciagli L, Bernhardt BC, Hong SJ, Bernasconi A, Bernasconi N. Front Neurosci. 2014 Dec 11;8:411


The advent of MRI has revolutionized the evaluation and management of drug-resistant epilepsy by allowing the detection of the lesion associated with the region that gives rise to seizures. Recent evidence indicates marked chronic alterations in the functional organization of lesional tissue and large-scale cortico-subcortical networks. In this review, we focus on recent methodological developments in functional MRI (fMRI) analysis techniques and their application to the two most common drug-resistant focal epilepsies, i.e., temporal lobe epilepsy related to mesial temporal sclerosis and extra-temporal lobe epilepsy related to focal cortical dysplasia. We put particular emphasis on methodological developments in the analysis of task-free or "resting-state" fMRI to probe the integrity of intrinsic networks on a regional, inter-regional, and connectome-wide level. In temporal lobe epilepsy, these techniques have revealed disrupted connectivity of the ipsilateral mesiotemporal lobe, together with contralateral compensatory reorganization and striking reconfigurations of large-scale networks. In cortical dysplasia, initial observations indicate functional alterations in lesional, peri-lesional, and remote neocortical regions. While future research is needed to critically evaluate the reliability, sensitivity, and specificity, fMRI mapping promises to lend distinct biomarkers for diagnosis, presurgical planning, and outcome prediction.