Adaptation and inhibition control pathological synchronization in a model of focal epileptic seizure
Pharmacoresistant epilepsy is a common neurological disorder in which increased neuronal intrinsic excitability and synaptic excitation lead to pathologically synchronous behavior in the brain. In the majority of experimental and theoretical epilepsy models, epilepsy is associated with reduced inhibition in the pathological neural circuits, yet effects of intrinsic excitability are usually not explicitly analyzed. Here we present a novel neural mass model that includes intrinsic excitability in the form of spike-frequency adaptation in the excitatory population. We validated our model using local field potential data recorded from human hippocampal/subicular slices. We found that synaptic conductances and slow adaptation in the excitatory population both play essential roles for generating seizures and pre-ictal oscillations. Using bifurcation analysis, we found that transitions towards seizure and back to the resting state take place via Andronov-Hopf bifurcations. These simulations therefore suggest that single neuron adaptation as well as synaptic inhibition are responsible for orchestrating seizure dynamics and transition towards the epileptic state.