Cross-scale effects of neural interactions during human neocortical seizure activity

Tahra L. Eissa, Koen Dijkstra, Christoph Brune, Ronald G. Emerson, Michel J.A.M. van Putten, Robert R. Goodman, Guy M. McKhann Jr., Catherine A. Schevon, Wim van Drongelen, Stephan A. van Gils

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Small-scale neuronal networks may impose widespread effects on large network dynamics. To unravel this relationship, we analyzed eight multiscale recordings of spontaneous seizures from four patients with epilepsy. During seizures, multiunit spike activity organizes into a submillimeter-sized wavefront, and this activity correlates significantly with low-frequency rhythms from electrocorticographic recordings across a 10-cm-sized neocortical network. Notably, this correlation effect is specific to the ictal wavefront and is absent interictally or from action potential activity outside the wavefront territory. To examine the multiscale interactions, we created a model using a multiscale, nonlinear system and found evidence for a dual role for feedforward inhibition in seizures: while inhibition at the wavefront fails, allowing seizure propagation, feedforward inhibition of the surrounding centimeter-scale networks is activated via long-range excitatory connections. Bifurcation analysis revealed that distinct dynamical pathways for seizure termination depend on the surrounding inhibition strength. Using our model, we found that the mesoscopic, local wavefront acts as the forcing term of the ictal process, while the macroscopic, centimeter-sized network modulates the oscillatory seizure activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10761-10766
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number40
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2017


  • Multiscale interactions
  • Nonlinear dynamics
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Feedforward inhibition


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