Impaired consciousness during seizures may be mediated by ictal propagation to the thalamus. Functions of individual thalamic nuclei with respect to consciousness, however, are largely unknown. The dorsomedial (DM) nucleus of the thalamus likely plays a role in arousal and cognition. We propose that alterations of firing patterns within the DM nucleus contribute to impaired arousal during focal seizures.Electroencephalograph data were collected from electrodes within the left DM thalamus and midcingulate cortex (MCC) in a patient undergoing seizure monitoring. Spectral power was computed across ictal states (preictal, ictal, and postictal) and level of consciousness (stupor/sleep vs. awake) in the DM nucleus and MCC.Eighty-seven seizures of multifocal left frontal and temporal onsets were analyzed, characterized by loss of consciousness. At baseline, the left DM nucleus demonstrated rhythmic bursts of gamma activity, most frequently and with greatest amplitude during wakefulness. This activity ceased as ictal discharges spread to the MCC, and consciousness was impaired, and it recurred at the end of each seizure as awareness was regained. The analysis of gamma (30-40Hz) power demonstrated that when seizures occurred during wakefulness, there was lower DM ictal power (p<0.0001) and higher DM postictal power (p<0.0001) relative to the preictal epoch. This spectral pattern was not evident within the MCC or when seizures occurred during sleep.Data revealed a characteristic pattern of DM gamma bursts during wakefulness, which disappeared during partial seizures associated with impaired consciousness. The findings are consistent with studies suggesting that the DM nucleus participates in cognition and arousal.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.yebeh.2015.07.027
View details for PubMedID 26295448