Homeostasis of brain dynamics in epilepsy: A feedback control systems perspective of Seizures

Niranjan Chakravarthy, Konstantinos Tsakalis, Shivkumar Sabesan, Leon Iasemidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


In an effort to understand basic functional mechanisms that can produce epileptic seizures, some key features are introduced in coupled lumped-parameter neural population models that produce "seizure"-like events and dynamics similar to the ones during the route of the epileptic brain towards seizures. In these models, modified from existing ones in the literature, internal feedback mechanisms are incorporated to maintain the normal low level of synchronous behavior in the presence of coupling variations. While the internal feedback is developed using basic feedback systems principles, it is also functionally equivalent to actual neurophysiological mechanisms such as homeostasis that act to maintain normal activity in neural systems that are subject to extrinsic and intrinsic perturbations. Here it is hypothesized that a plausible cause of seizures is a pathology in the internal feedback action; normal internal feedback quickly regulates an abnormally high coupling between the neural populations, whereas pathological internal feedback can lead to "seizure"-like high amplitude oscillations. Several external seizure-control paradigms, that act to achieve the operational objective of maintaining normal levels of synchronous behavior, are also developed and tested in this paper. In particular, closed-loop "modulating" control with predefined stimuli, and closed-loop feedback decoupling control are considered. Among these, feedback decoupling control is the consistently successful and robust seizure-control strategy. The proposed model and remedies are consistent with a variety of recent observations in the human and animal epileptic brain, and with theories from nonlinear systems, adaptive systems, optimization, and neurophysiology. The results from the analysis of these models have two key implications, namely, developing a basic theory for epilepsy and other brain disorders, and the development of a robust seizure-control device through electrical stimulation and/or drug intervention modalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-585
Number of pages21
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Coupled systems
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Feedback control
  • Neural population models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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