Sleep-related minor motor events in nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy

Michele Terzaghi, Ivana Sartori, Roberto Mai, Laura Tassi, Stefano Francione, Francesco Cardinale, Laura Castana, Massimo Cossu, Giorgio LoRusso, Raffaele Manni, Lino Nobili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy (NFLE) is characterized by a wide spectrum of sleep-related motor manifestations of increasing complexity, ranging from major episodes to brief motor events (minor motor events, MMEs). NFLE patients may exhibit a large quantity of MMEs in the form of short-lasting stereotyped movements. Whereas major episodes are considered epileptiform manifestations, it remains unclear whether the MMEs are related to epileptiform discharges (EDs). Methods: To study the relation between EDs and the occurrence of MMEs, we report a detailed neurophysiolgical evaluation in NFLE subjects explored by using implanted electrodes. Results: The median value of ED-related movements was 71.8%. Motor expression in relation to epileptiform discharge was surprisingly variable; no peculiar expression of MMEs could be attributed to the presence of EDs. Conclusions: Our data suggest that ED-associated MMEs are extremely polymorphous, and no univocal relation to EDs can be identified. We hypothesize that MMEs are not a direct effect of epileptiform discharge (i.e., not epileptic in origin), but the result of aspecific disinhibition of innate motor patterns. We warn clinicians that the epileptic nature of minimal motor phenomena in NFLE cannot be established on the clinical phenomenology of the event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-341
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


  • Arousal
  • Central pattern generators
  • Innate behaviors
  • Minimal motor events
  • Nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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