Critical slowing features (variance and autocorrelation) of long-term continuous electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiography (ECG) data have previously been used to forecast epileptic seizure onset. This study tested the feasibility of forecasting non-epileptic seizures using the same methods. In doing so, we examined if long-term cycles of brain and cardiac activity are present in clinical physiological recordings of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES).
Retrospectively accessed ambulatory EEG and ECG data from 15 patients with non-epileptic seizures and no background of epilepsy were used for developing the forecasting system. The median period of recordings was 161 h, with a median of 7 non-epileptic seizures per patient. The phases of different cycles (5 min, 1 h, 6 h, 12 h, 24 h) of EEG and RR interval (RRI) critical slowing features were investigated. Forecasters were generated using combinations of the variance and autocorrelation of both EEG and the RRI of the ECG at each of the aforementioned cycle lengths. Optimal forecasters were selected as those with the highest area under the receiver-operator curve (AUC).
It was found that PNES events occurred in the rising phases of EEG feature cycles of 12 and 24 h in duration at a rate significantly above chance. We demonstrated that the proposed forecasters achieved performance significantly better than chance in 8/15 of patients, and the mean AUC of the best forecaster across patients was 0.79.
To our knowledge, this is the first study to retrospectively forecast non-epileptic seizures using both EEG and ECG data. The significance of EEG in the forecasting models suggests that cyclic EEG features of non-epileptic seizures exist. This study opens the potential of seizure forecasting beyond epilepsy, into other disorders of episodic loss of consciousness or dissociation.
Wenjuan Xiong, Tatiana Kameneva, Elisabeth Lambert, Mark J Cook, Mark P Richardson, and Ewan S Nurse.
Published on 19 October 2022
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