Experimental epileptology before 1900.

Abstract

The available English and other major Western European language literature was reviewed to assess the stage of development of experimental epileptology prior to the end of the 19th Century. The relevant investigations had been carried out in animals of various species employing a number of methods of evoking convulsive seizures, mainly mechanical, electrical or chemical stimulation or surgical removal of parts of the cerebral cortex. The studies had produced some conflicting data but (i) allowed the development of a number of reasonably satisfactory experimental models of convulsive epileptic seizures (ii) confirmed that such epileptic seizures arose from the cerebral cortex, and (iii) suggested that for local onset epileptic seizures to become generalised tonic-clonic ones, the opposite motor cortex and probably a brain stem, possibly pontine, centre needed to be involved. No generally acceptable animal model of chronic epilepsy had been developed, and the non-motor manifestations of epileptic seizures were still largely unexplored experimentally. Nevertheless, the pre-1900 investigations not only laid the foundations for the 20th Century expansion of experimental studies on epileptogenesis but also advanced the understanding of epileptic seizure production.

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