Disordered brain activity in Rolandic epilepsy can be influenced by brief sounds during sleep


Abstract graphic. Credit: DOI: 10.1016 / j.xcrm.2021.100432

Rolandic epilepsy is a common form of epilepsy in children that occurs mainly during sleep. Short sounds played during sleep may partially suppress the neuronal discharges characteristic of epilepsy. This is according to a research team from the University of Tübingen and Tübingen University Hospitals. The team is led by Dr Hong-Viet Ngo and Professor Jan Born from the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology. Their results could form the basis of future research on the treatment of this form of epilepsy. Rolandic epilepsy usually has a mild course and often goes untreated. However, these new treatments could have an effect on some of the cognitive development abnormalities associated with the disease. The new study was published in the latest edition of Cellular Reports Medicine.

Rolandic epilepsy usually appears in children between the ages of five and eight and goes away around the onset of puberty. “The seizures in this form of epilepsy are usually brief and focal, so there may be twitching around the face and temporary speech problems associated with the seizures,” says Dr. med. Susanne Ruf from Children’s Hospital, who participated in the study. In addition, seizures often only occur at very long intervals. For this reason, many parents and children decide not to take tablets to treat it. “What is problematic, however, is that epilepsy can disrupt normal brain activity during sleep at an important stage in children’s development,” says Ruf. Learning and language difficulties, memory and attention problems are believed to be associated with Rolandic epilepsy.

Differences in brain activity

In the study, the research team non-invasively recorded the electrical brain activity of seven children with Rolandic epilepsy, and seven healthy control subjects of the same age, in electroencephalograms (EEGs) during sleep. “Our work confirms previous findings that there are differences in the brain activity of patient children during sleep compared to healthy children,” says study lead author Dr. Jens Klinzing of the research group by Born. “This particularly affects so-called ‘sleep spindles,’ an important activity pattern for processing memories during sleep.” In children with the disease, the epileptic discharges – each recorded as of a peak in the curve on the EEG – were also measured during sleep and during quiet periods of wakefulness. The rate and strength of these discharges is believed to determine the extent of abnormalities in cognitive domains.

The points probably originate from the connections between the diencephalon and the cerebral cortex; this gave researchers the idea to conduct experiments with sound during sleep. “The connections between the diencephalon and the cerebral cortex are involved in the origin of sleep spikes and spindles,” says Klinzing. “Previous studies knew that sleep spindles can be stimulated by sound.” The researchers therefore suspected that epileptic discharges could also be influenced in this way. In fact, softly played sounds have been found to reduce both the frequency of spikes and the intensity of subsequent spikes in children with Rolandic epilepsy.

Promote developmental processes in the brain

“Due to the sounds, the desired sleep spindles arose in the EEG,” says Dr. Ngo. These are an indicator that developmental or “plastic” processes are taking place in the brain, leading to the consolidation of memory. These are functions that can be impaired in Rolandic epilepsy, he says. “We hope to have found an approach to slightly suppress the unwanted epileptic discharges associated with the disease,” adds the researcher. Now, he says, a larger study with more patients and longer treatment periods must corroborate the results. Among the unanswered questions is whether removing the spikes leads to cognitive improvements in affected children.


Sleep hygiene should be integrated into diagnosis and management of epilepsy, study finds


More information:
Jens G. Klinzing et al, Auditory stimulation during sleep suppresses spike activity in benign epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes, Cellular Reports Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.xcrm.2021.100432

Provided by Universitaet Tübingen

Quote: Disordered Brain Activity in Rolandic Epilepsy May Be Influenced by Brief Sounds During Sleep (2021, October 27) Retrieved October 27, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-10-disordered -brain-rolandic-epilepsy.html

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