Sleep Loss Increases Cortical Excitability in Epileptics

Hemispheres affected, level of change depends on epilepsy type

TUESDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Sleep deprivation leads to increases in cortical excitability in untreated patients with epilepsy, although the hemispheres affected and the magnitude of the change varies depending on epilepsy type, according to a study in the Sept. 26 issue of the Neurology.

Richard A.L. Macdonell, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, performed paired pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation before and after sleep deprivation on 30 patients with untreated newly diagnosed epilepsy (15 with idiopathic generalized epilepsy and 15 with focal epilepsy) and 13 healthy controls. Stimulation was performed on both hemispheres in epileptic patients and on the dominant hemisphere in controls.

The researchers observed that after sleep deprivation, there was an increase in cortical excitability at a number of interstimulus intervals in both hemispheres of patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy and in the hemisphere containing the seizure focus in patients with focal epilepsy. The change was most pronounced in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, according to the study.

"Sleep deprivation increases cortical excitability in epilepsy; the pattern of change is syndrome dependent," Macdonell and colleagues conclude.

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