Graph theory has evolved into a useful tool for studying complex brain networks inferred from a variety of measures of neural activity, including fMRI, DTI, MEG and EEG. In the study of neurological disorders, recent work has discovered differences in the structure of graphs inferred from patient and control cohorts. However, most of these studies pursue a purely observational approach; identifying correlations between properties of graphs and the cohort which they describe, without consideration of the underlying mechanisms. To move beyond this necessitates the development of computational modeling approaches to appropriately interpret network interactions and the alterations in brain dynamics they permit, which in the field of complexity sciences is known as dynamics on networks. In this study we describe the development and application of this framework using modular networks of Kuramoto oscillators. We use this framework to understand functional networks inferred from resting state EEG recordings of a cohort of 35 adults with heterogeneous idiopathic generalized epilepsies and 40 healthy adult controls. Taking emergent synchrony across the global network as a proxy for seizures, our study finds that the critical strength of coupling required to synchronize the global network is significantly decreased for the epilepsy cohort for functional networks inferred from both theta (3–6 Hz) and low-alpha (6–9 Hz) bands. We further identify left frontal regions as a potential driver of seizure activity within these networks. We also explore the ability of our method to identify individuals with epilepsy, observing up to 80% predictive power through use of receiver operating characteristic analysis. Collectively these findings demonstrate that a computer model-based analysis of routine clinical EEG provides significant additional information beyond standard clinical interpretation, which should ultimately enable a more appropriate mechanistic stratification of people with epilepsy leading to improved diagnostics and therapeutics.
H Schmidt, GH Petkov, MP Richardson, JR Terry
PLoS Computational Biology 10, e1003947