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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 231676, 15 pages
Review Article

Are Absence Epilepsy and Nocturnal Frontal Lobe Epilepsy System Epilepsies of the Sleep/Wake System?

National Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Lotz K. u. 18, Budapest 1026, Hungary

Received 27 January 2015; Revised 13 April 2015; Accepted 5 May 2015

Academic Editor: Luigi Ferini-Strambi

Copyright © 2015 Péter Halász. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


System epilepsy is an emerging concept interpreting major nonlesional epilepsies as epileptic dysfunctions of physiological systems. I extend here the concept of reflex epilepsy to epilepsies linked to input dependent physiological systems. Experimental and clinical reseach data were collected to create a coherent explanation of underlying pathomechanism in AE and NFLE. We propose that AE should be interpreted as epilepsy linked to the corticothalamic burst-firing mode of NREM sleep, released by evoked vigilance level oscillations characterized by reactive slow wave response. In the genetic variation of NFLE the ascending cholinergic arousal system plays an essential role being in strong relationship with a gain mutation of the nicotinic acethylcholin receptors, rendering the arousal system hyperexcitable. I try to provide a more unitary interpretation for the variable seizure manifestation integrating them as different degree of pathological arosuals and alarm reactions. As a supporting hypothesis the similarity between arousal parasomnias and FNLE is shown, underpinned by overlaping pathomechanism and shared familiarity, but without epileptic features. Lastly we propose that both AE and NFLE are system epilepsies of the sleep-wake system representing epileptic disorders of the antagonistic sleep/arousal network. This interpretation may throw new light on the pathomechanism of AE and NFLE.