Neurophysiology of neocortical slices resected from children undergoing surgical treatment for epilepsy

F. Edward Dudek, Jean Pierre Wuarin, Jeffrey G. Tasker, Yang I. Kim, Warwick J. Peacock

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The recent emergence of surgical treatment of childhood epilepsy has led to the accessibility of young human cerebral tissue for electrophysiological studies of the mechanisms involved in epileptogenesis. Intracellular recordings were obtained from neurons in slices prepared from neocortical tissue resected from children (3 months to 15 years) with catastrophic epilepsy. Data from 'least abnormal' versus 'most abnormal' tissue were compared; the evaluation of the degree of abnormality was based on several clinical criteria. Hypotheses concerning NMDA receptors, local synaptic circuits, and epileptiform bursts were tested. The NMDA receptor-mediated component of synaptic responses, which was isolated pharmacologically, had a voltage dependence that was functionally mature by 8-10 months of age and did not appear to be altered even in the most abnormal tissue. Local inhibitory and excitatory synaptic circuits were present as early as 11 months and 8 months, respectively. Local excitatory circuits were sufficiently extensive in young children to initiate and sustain epileptiform activity when synaptic inhibition was suppressed. Bicuculline-induced epileptiform bursts were similar to those in adult human or animal neocortical slices. Burst duration and the presence of after-discharges were unrelated to patient age or tissue abnormality. These data demonstrate that (1) the electrophysiological properties of human neocortical neurons are very similar to those observed in animal experiments, (2) the mechanisms of neuronal communication are qualitatively mature within the first year of life, and (3) synaptic transmission and local neuronal circuits appear qualitatively normal, even in the most abnormal tissue from children with catastrophic epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Jun
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Drs. H. Chugani, D.A. Shewmon, W.D. Shields, and H. Vinters for providing clinical information, Drs. D. Guthrie and S. Roper for help in summarizing the clinical data, and Drs. D.L. Birt and D. Guthrie for statistical analyses. We also thank Ms. G. Allen for performing the histological techniques, Dr. R.S. Fisher for assistance in histological identification of the recorded neurons, Ms. Lisa Belhage for preparing Fig. 1, and Ms. A. Bienvenu for word processing. This research was supported by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Grants NS-16683 and NS-28383. Dr. J.-P. Wuarin was supported in part by a Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation, and Dr. J.G. Tasker was sponsored by the American Epilepsy Society with support from the Milken Family Foundation.


  • Epileptiform burst
  • Local circuit
  • NMDA receptor
  • Neocortical slice
  • Pediatric epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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