Neuroethological approach to frontolimbic epileptic seizures and parasomnias: The same central pattern generators for the same behaviours

C. A. Tassinari, G. Cantalupo, B. Högl, P. Cortelli, L. Tassi, S. Francione, L. Nobili, S. Meletti, G. Rubboli, E. Gardella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The aim of this report is not to make a differential diagnosis between epileptic nocturnal seizures and non-epileptic sleep-related movement disorders, or parasomnias. On the contrary, our goal is to emphasize the commonly shared semiological features of some epileptic seizures and parasomnias. Such similar features might be explained by the activation of the same neuronal networks (so-called -central pattern generators- or CPG). These produce the stereotypical rhythmicmotor sequences - in other words, behaviours - that are adaptive and species-specific (such as eating/alimentary, attractive/aversive, locomotor and nesting habits). CPG are located at the subcortical level (mainly in the brain stemand spinal cord) and, in humans, are under the control of the phylogenetically more recent neomammalian neocortical structures, according to a simplified Jacksonian model. Based on video-polygraphic recordings of sleep-related epileptic seizures and non-epileptic events (parasomnias), we have documented how a transient -neomammalian brain- dysfunction -whether epileptic or not- can 'release' (disinhibition?) the CPG responsible for involuntary motor behaviours. Thus, in both epileptic seizures and parasomnias, we can observe: (a) oroalimentary automatisms, bruxism and biting; (b) ambulatory behaviours, ranging from the classical bimanual-bipedal activity of 'frontal' hypermotor seizures, epileptic and non-epileptic wanderings, and somnambulism to periodic leg movements (PLM), alternating leg muscle activation (ALMA) and restless legs syndrome (RLS); and (c) various sleep-related events such as ictal fear, sleep terrors, nightmares and violent behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-768
Number of pages7
JournalRevue Neurologique
Volume165
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

Keywords

  • Central pattern generators
  • Frontolimbic epileptic seizures
  • Parasomnias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology

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