Computational modeling of seizure spread on a cortical surface and the theta-alpha electrographic pattern

Viktor Sip
Aix Marseille Univ, INSERM, INS, Inst Neurosci Syst, Marseille, France

Intracranial electroencephalography is a standard tool in clinical evaluation of patients with focal epilepsy. Various early electrographic seizure patterns differing in frequency, amplitude, and waveform of the oscillations are observed in intracranial recordings. The pattern most common in the areas of seizure propagation is the so-called theta-alpha activity (TAA), whose defining features are oscillations in the theta-alpha range and gradually increasing amplitude. A deeper understanding of the mechanism underlying the generation of the TAA pattern is however lacking. We show by means of numerical simulation that the features of the TAA pattern observed on an implanted depth electrode in a specific epileptic patient can be plausibly explained by the seizure propagation across an individual folded cortical surface. In order to demonstrate this, we employ following pipeline: First, the structural model of the brain is reconstructed from the T1-weighted images, and the position of the electrode contact are determined using the CT scan with implanted electrodes. Next, the patch of cortical surface in the vicinity of the electrode of interest is extracted. On this surface, the simulation of the seizure spread is performed using The Virtual Brain framework. As a mathematical model the Epileptor model in its field formulation is employed. The simulated source activity is then projected to the sensors using the dipole model, and this simulated stereo-electroencephalograpic (SEEG) signal is compared with the recorded one. The results show that the simulation on the patient-specific cortical surface gives a better fit between the recorded and simulated signals than the simulation on generic surrogate surfaces. Furthermore, the results indicate that the spectral content and dynamical features might differ in the source space of the cortical gray matter activity and among the intracranial sensors, questioning the previous approaches to classification of seizure onset patterns done in the sensor space, both based on spectral content and on dynamical features. In conclusion, we demonstrate that the investigation of the seizure dynamics on the level of cortical surface can provide deeper insight into the large scale spatiotemporal organization of the seizure. At the same time it highlights the need for a robust techniques for inversion of the observed activity from sensor to source space that would take into account the complex geometry of the cortical sources and the position of the intracranial sensors.