Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Ingrid Johnsrude


Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common form of focal epilepsy and is often resistant to medication. Recent studies have noted brain-wide disruptions to several neural networks in so-called “focal” epilepsy, notably TLE, leading to it being recognized as a network disease. We aimed to assess the integrity of functional networks while they were simultaneously activated in an ecologically valid manner, using an actively engaging, richly stimulating audio-visual film clip. This stimulus elicits widespread, dynamic patterns of time-locked brain activity, measurable using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Thirteen persons with drug-resistant TLE (persons with epilepsy; PWE) and 10 demographically matched controls were scanned while at rest and while watching a suspenseful movie clip in a 3T MRI system. We observed idiosyncratic activation in several functional networks among PWE during movie-viewing. Activation time courses among PWE synchronized poorly with the highly stereotyped movie-driven BOLD fluctuations exhibited by controls [i.e., high inter-subject correlation (ISC)]. We also examined coupling (functional connectivity) among 10 canonical functional networks during resting-state and movie-viewing conditions. Whereas functional networks in healthy viewers segregate to support movie processing, the auditory and dorsal attention networks among PWE do not segregate as efficiently. Furthermore, we observed a robust pattern of connectivity alterations in temporal and extratemporal regions during movie viewing in PWE compared to controls. Our findings supplement evidence derived from resting-state fMRI and provide novel insight into how the cognitively engaged brain is altered in TLE.