Introduction: Functional connectivity has been correlated with a patient’s level of consciousness and has been found to be altered in several mental disorders. Absence epilepsy patients, who experience a loss of consciousness, are assumed to suffer from alterations in thalamo-cortical networks; however, previous studies have not explored the functional connectivity between different brain modules in this mental disorder
Methods: We used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the alteration in functional connectivity that occurs in absence epilepsy patients by parcellating the brain into 90 brain regions/nodes, as was performed in previous small-world network studies.
Results: Some brain regions had a greater number of altered connections and therefore behaved as key nodes in the changed network pattern; these regions included the superior frontal gyrus, the amygdala and the putamen. The within/between modules functional connectivity in absence epilepsy patients showed a tendency of divergence from the pattern in control subjects that included an increase in the value of positive connections and a decrease in the value of the negative connections.
Conclusions: In particular, the superior frontal gyrus demonstrated both an increased value of connections with other nodes of the frontal default mode network and a decreased value of connections with the limbic system. This divergence is positively correlated with epilepsy duration.
Patient Care: These findings provide a new perspective and shed light on how functional connectivity and the balance of within/between modules connections may contribute to both the state of consciousness and the development of absence epilepsy.
Learning Objectives: By the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to understant that an altered functional connectivity within and between functional modules in the abscence epilepsy patients. This research may help us to understand the neural mechanisms of consciousness in general, further investigations will be required to identify the specific mechanisms in future studies.