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It has been well established in animal models that electrical fields generated during inter-ictal and ictal discharges are strong enough in intensity to influence action potential firing threshold and synchronization. We discuss recently published data from microelectrode array recordings of human neocortical seizures and speculate about the possible role of field effects in neuronal synchronization. We have identified two distinct seizure territories that cannot be easily distinguished by traditional EEG analysis. The ictal core exhibits synchronized neuronal burst firing, while the surrounding ictal penumbra exhibits asynchronous and relatively sparse neuronal activity. In the ictal core large amplitude rhythmic ictal discharges produce large electric fields that correspond with highly synchronous neuronal firing. In the penumbra rhythmic ictal discharges are smaller in amplitude, but large enough to influence spike timing, yet neuronal synchrony is not observed. These in homine observations are in accord with decades of animal studies supporting a role of field effects in neuronal synchronization during seizures, yet also highlight how field effects may be negated in the presence of strong synaptic inhibition in the penumbra.


This article was originally published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, available at DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00828.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (CC BY 3.0)



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