Modification of slow cortical potentials in patients with refractory epilepsy: A controlled outcome study

B. Kotchoubey, U. Strehl, C. Uhlmann, S. Holzapfel, M. König, W. Fröscher, V. Blankenhorn, N. Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To compare self-regulation of low-frequency EEG components (slow cortical potentials, SCPs) with other methods of seizure control for patients with drug-refractory partial epilepsy and to separate the real anticonvulsire effect from placebo effects. Methods: Results of a treatment program of SCP self-regulation (experimental group) are compared with two groups of patients, one of which learned self-control of respiratory parameters (end-tidal CO 2 and respiration rate: RES group); the other received medication with new anticonvulsive drugs (AEDs) in combination with psychosocial counseling (MED group). Clinical, cognitive, behavioral, and personality measures were assessed before and after treatment. In addition, to control for placebo responses, patients repeatedly estimated their beliefs in the efficiency of the respective treatment, their satisfaction and expectations, and the quality of the relationship with their therapists. Results: SCP and MED groups showed a significant decrease of seizure frequency, but the RES group did not. Clear positive changes in the sociopsychological adjustment were obtained in all three groups, with the maximal improvement being attained in the RES group. Conclusions: All kinds of therapy result in considerable improvement of patients' emotional state, which may in part be due to potential placebo effects; however, this improvement is not related to the quality of the therapeutic effect proper (i.e., seizure reduction). Traditional double-blind control group designs are inappropriate for behavioral interventions or treatments with psychoactive pharmacologic drugs. Rather, specific tests can be developed to control the placebo effect and to separate it from the genuine therapeutic effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-416
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Epilepsy
  • Placebo control
  • Respiration
  • Self-regulation
  • Slow cortical potentials (SCPs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Modification of slow cortical potentials in patients with refractory epilepsy: A controlled outcome study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this