Slower alpha rhythm associates with poorer seizure control in epilepsy
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OBJECTIVE: Slowing and frontal spread of the alpha rhythm have been reported in multiple epilepsy syndromes. We investigated whether these phenomena are associated with seizure control. METHODS: We prospectively acquired resting-state electroencephalogram (EEG) in 63 patients with focal and idiopathic generalized epilepsy (FE and IGE) and 39 age- and gender-matched healthy subjects (HS). Patients were divided into good and poor (≥4 seizures/12 months) seizure control groups based on self-reports and clinical records. We computed spectral power from 20-sec EEG segments during eyes-closed wakefulness, free of interictal abnormalities, and quantified power in high- and low-alpha bands. Analysis of covariance and post hoc t-tests were used to assess group differences in alpha-power shift across all EEG channels. Permutation-based statistics were used to assess the topography of this shift across the whole scalp. RESULTS: Compared to HS, patients showed a statistically significant shift of spectral power from high- to low-alpha frequencies (effect size g = 0.78 [95% confidence interval 0.43, 1.20]). This alpha-power shift was driven by patients with poor seizure control in both FE and IGE (g = 1.14, [0.65, 1.74]), and occurred over midline frontal and bilateral occipital regions. IGE exhibited less alpha power shift compared to FE over bilateral frontal regions (g = -1.16 [-0.68, -1.74]). There was no interaction between syndrome and seizure control. Effects were independent of antiepileptic drug load, time of day, or subgroup definitions. INTERPRETATION: Alpha slowing and anteriorization are a robust finding in patients with epilepsy and might represent a generic indicator of seizure liability.
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