Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

The overclocked epileptic

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-04-25

I’ve long thought (especially since hearing about treatment of epileptic rats with subcranial Peltier coolers – see picture) that a good lay-person explanation of epilepsy was "it’s like an overclocked computer – it works real fast on some things, but is much more likely to fritz and/or need a reboot".

A recent paper (Cortical glutamate metabolism is enhanced in a genetic model of absence epilepsy, doi:10.1038/sj.jcbfm.9600300) gives further support to the "overclocking" simile…

Even just in the abstract, the following aspects of neuronal metabolism are enhanced (yep, they said "enhanced" – because we epileptics are different: some intellectual functions like creativity and associative memory are better than normal, others like declarative memory and organization are worse) in the (specially bred) epileptic rats:

  • Pyruvate metabolism
  • mitochondrial metabolism in neurons and astrocytes

Surprisingly, while limbic areas, (e.g.) hippocampus, never express SWDs, neuronal glutamatergic metabolism was disturbed.Surprisingly, while limbic areas<, such as hippocampus neuronal glutamatergic metabolism was disturbed.

The hippocampus is found in each temporal lobe, so that might help explain the screwy memory of we folk with left-temporal problems.

… impaired thalamic filter function. Hence, reduced sensory input to cortex could allow the occurrence of spike-and-wave discharges in the thalamocortical loop.

Well, that last bit explains why I’m most likely to progress to a full-on tonic-clonic in my sleep (which I’ll know about because I’m so sore when I wake up the next morning)!


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