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Alterations in the connectivity patterns of the fMRI-based resting-state networks (RSNs) have been reported in several types of epilepsies. Evidence pointed out these alterations might be associated with the genesis and propagation of interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs). IEDs also evoke blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) responses, which have been used to delineate irritative zones during preoperative work-up. Therefore, one may expect a relationship between the topology of the IED-evoked BOLD response network and the altered spatial patterns of the RSNs. In this study, we used EEG recordings and fMRI data obtained simultaneously from a chronic model of focal epilepsy in Wistar rats to verify our hypothesis. We found that IED-evoked BOLD response networks comprise both cortical and subcortical structures with a rat-dependent topology. In all rats, IEDs evoke both activation and deactivation types of BOLD responses. Using a Granger causality method, we found that in many cases areas with BOLD deactivation have directed influences on areas with activation (p<0.05). We were able to predict topological properties (i.e., focal/diffused, unilateral/bilateral) of the IED-evoked BOLD response network by performing hierarchical clustering analysis on major spatial features of the RSNs. All these results suggest that IEDs and disruptions in the RSNs found previously in humans may be different manifestations of the same transient events, probably reflecting altered consciousness. In our opinion, the shutdown of specific nodes of the default mode network may cause uncontrollable excitability in other functionally connected brain areas. We conclude that IED-evoked BOLD responses (i.e., activation and deactivation) and alterations of RSNs are intrinsically related, and speculate that an understanding of their interplay is necessary to discriminate focal epileptogenesis and network propagation phenomena across different brain modules via hub-based connectivity.


This article was originally published in PLOS One

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