Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy: A system disorder of the brain

Peter Wolf, Elza Márcia Targas Yacubian, Giuliano Avanzini, Thomas Sander, Bettina Schmitz, Britta Wandschneider, Matthias Koepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prevailing understanding of generalized epilepsy is shaped by the traditional definition that "the responsible neuronal discharge takes place, if not throughout the entire grey matter, then at least in the greater part of it and simultaneously on both sides".This view is no longer tenable since concurrent findings using multiple methods have accumulated to reveal the role of bilateral networks of distributed and selective cortical and subcortical structures in so-called generalized ictogenesis. Most of this research has been focused on juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME), which today is commonly considered the archetypical syndrome of the idiopathic generalized epilepsies. Based upon recent research in the fields of clinical epileptology, neuropsychology and psychiatry, clinical neurophysiology, neuroimaging and epilepsy genetics this article, for the first time, unites these new findings into a comprehensive nosological view. Genetically determined dysfunctions of important cognitive systems like visuomotor coordination and linguistic communication appear now as key mechanisms of seizure generation in JME. This review suggests a new paradigm to consider JME as a system disorder of the brain analogous to other neurological system disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-12
Number of pages11
JournalEpilepsy Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Cognitive systems
  • Functional anatomy
  • Generalized epilepsies
  • Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy
  • System epilepsies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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