Elisa Visani

Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta, Milano, Lombardy, Italy

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Publications (28)61.74 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between sensory hyperexcitability as revealed by giant SEPs and the SEP recovery function (SEP-R) in a series of patient with progressive myoclonic epilepsy of Unverricht-Lundborg type, identified as epilepsy, progressive myoclonic 1A (EPM1A), MIM #254800. METHODS: We evaluated SEPs by applying median nerve stimuli and SEP-R using paired stimuli at inter-stimulus intervals (ISIs) of between 20 and 600ms in 25 patients and 20 controls. The SEPs were considered "giant" if the N20P25 and P25N33 amplitudes exceeded normal mean values by +3SD. RESULTS: During the paired-stimulus protocol, the SEPs elicited by the second stimulus (S2) were detectable at all ISIs but consistently suppressed in the 13 patients with giant SEPs reflecting a significantly delayed SEP-R. Maximal suppression roughly corresponded to the plateau of a broad middle latency (>100ms) wave pertaining to the S1 response. CONCLUSIONS: The cortical processing dysfunction generating giant SEPs in EPM1A patients consistently combines with a long-lasting suppression of hyperexcitability that leads to a delayed giant SEP-R without obstructing the response to incoming stimuli. SIGNIFICANCE: The delayed SEP-R is not due to true inhibition but the suppression of aberrant hyper-synchronisation sustaining giant SEPs. A broad middle latency SEP component adds a significantly suppressive effect. This suggests that cortico-subcortical circuitries contribute to both the gigantism and the delayed SEP-R.
    Clinical neurophysiology: official journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology 12/2012; · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the last decade, an increasing interest has arisen in investigating the relationship between the electrophysiological and hemodynamic measurements of brain activity, such as EEG and (BOLD) fMRI. In particular, changes in BOLD have been shown to be associated with changes in the spectral profile of neuronal activity, rather than with absolute neural power. On the other hand, though, recent findings showed that different EEG rhythms are independently related to changes in the BOLD signal: therefore, it would be important to distinguish between the contributions of the different EEG rhythms to BOLD fluctuations when modeling the relationship between EEG and BOLD. Here we proposed a novel method to perform EEG-informed fMRI analysis, so that the EEG regressors take into account both the changes in the spectral profile and the rhythms distinction. We applied it to EEG-fMRI data during a bimanual motor task in healthy subjects, and compared the results with those obtained by regressing fMRI data onto a single regressor covering the entire range of frequencies, ignoring the distinction between different EEG rhythms. Our results showed that the proposed method better captures the correlations between BOLD signal and EEG rhythms modulations, identifying task-related well localized activated volumes.
    Conference proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference 08/2012; 2012:4712-5.
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    ABSTRACT: To classify the grade of antiepileptic drug (AED) resistance in a cohort of patients with focal epilepsies, to recognize the risk factors for AED resistance, and to estimate the helpfulness of "new-generation" AEDs. We included 1,155 adults with focal epilepsies who were observed consecutively after 1990 and followed regularly at two epilepsy centers. We systematically collected the clinical, diagnostic, and therapeutic data using a custom-written database. We classified the patients as seizure-free or AED resistant according to the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) criteria, and we evaluated the risk factors associated with AED resistance using logistic regression analysis. We further grouped AED-resistant patients in different grades (I, II, and III) according to the number of AEDs already tried as proposed by Perucca. AED resistance occurred in 57.8% of the 729 patients with symptomatic focal epilepsies and was positively associated with electroencephalography (EEG) abnormalities, seizure type, and the presence of mesial temporal sclerosis. Among 426 patients without detectable causes, the percentage of AED resistance was significantly lower (39.2%) and correlated with EEG abnormalities and psychiatric symptoms. Among AED-resistant patients, the majority (64.6%) had tried three or more AEDs, which fit the more severe grade III proposed by Perucca. Among seizure-free patients, more than one-half (57%) needed to try two or more AEDs before reaching seizure control (14.9% needed three or more AEDs). Furthermore, among seizure-free patients who could be previously classified as resistant to two or more AEDs, 52.2% reached seizure freedom while receiving treatment with "new generation" AEDs. The ILAE classification of AED resistance, as well the graded classification proposed by Perucca, was easily exploitable in our patients, although these classifications systems appear to have a limited value in predicting seizure outcome. Actually, a small but not negligible percentage of patients reached seizure freedom after trying several AEDs (including "new" AEDs), suggesting repeated trials may be necessary for seizure control.
    Epilepsia 02/2012; 53(4):733-40. · 3.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Photosensitive epilepsy (PSE) is the most common form of reflex epilepsy presenting with electroencephalography (EEG) paroxysms elicited by intermittent photic stimulation (IPS). To investigate whether the neuronal network undergoes dynamic changes before and during the transition to an EEG epileptic discharge, we estimated EEG connectivity patterns in photosensitive (PS) patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. EEG signals were evaluated under resting conditions and during 14 Hz IPS, a frequency that consistently induces photoparoxysmal responses (PPRs) in PS patients. Partial directed coherence (PDC), a linear measure of effective connectivity based on multivariate autoregressive models, was used in 10 PS patients and 10 controls. Anterior versus posterior (F3, F4, C3, C4, and P3, P4, O1, O2) and interhemispheric connectivity patterns (F4, C4, P4, O2, and F3, C3, P3, O1) were estimated with focus on beta and gamma band activity. PDC analysis revealed an enhanced connectivity pattern in terms of both the number and strength of outflow connections in the PS patient group. Under resting condition, the greater connectivity in the PS patients occurred in the beta band, whereas it mainly involved the gamma band during IPS (i.e., the frequencies ranging from 40-60 Hz that include the higher harmonics of the stimulus frequency). Both at rest and during IPS, the differences between the PS patients and controls were due primarily to clearly increased connectivity involving the anterior cortical regions. Our findings indicate that PS patients are characterised by abnormal EEG hyperconnectivity, primarily involving the anterior cortical regions under resting conditions and during IPS. This suggests that, even if the occipital cortical regions are the recipient zone of the stimulus and probably hyperexcitable, the anterior cortical areas are prominently involved in generating the hypersynchronization underlying the spike-and wave discharges elicited by IPS.
    Epilepsia 12/2011; 53(2):359-67. · 3.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Brain near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is emerging as a potential alternative to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). To date, no study has explicitly compared the two techniques in terms of measurement variability, a key parameter dictating attainable statistical power. Here, NIRS and fMRI were simultaneously recorded during event-related visual stimulation. Inter-subject coefficients of variation (CVs) for peak response amplitude were considerably larger for NIRS than fMRI, but inter-subject CVs for response latency and intra-subject CVs for response amplitude were overall comparable. Our results may represent an optimistic estimate of the CVs of NIRS measurements, as optode positioning was guided by structural MRI, which is normally unavailable. We concluded that fMRI may be preferable to NIRS for group comparisons, but NIRS is equally powerful when comparing conditions within participants. The discrepancy between inter- and intra-subject CVs is likely related to variability in head anatomy and tissue properties, which may be better accounted for by emerging NIRS technology.
    Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology 07/2011; 35(6-7):370-6.
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, simultaneously acquired EEG and fMRI data from a motor experiment are analyzed. The motor task consists in moving the right hand and is performed by a group of healthy volunteers. The objective is to find the most adequate way to model the movement-related blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response present in the fMRI data. The analysis of the fMRI data is performed using Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) and estimating two different models. In the first one (motor event model), the BOLD response is modeled following the time instants of the motor events. The second one (brain wave model) incorporates the dynamics of the 5 canonical EEG rhythms (a, p, y, 8, 6) to describe the BOLD response. From the results, it can be concluded that the motor event model better describes the BOLD response related to the movement itself, but that the brain wave model is better suited to characterize the BOLD response of complementary brain processes.
    Neural Engineering (NER), 2011 5th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on; 06/2011
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    ABSTRACT: A multimodality approach based on fNIRS-EEG, fMRI-EEG and TMS was used on adult volunteers during motor task aiming at optimizing a functional imaging procedure to be eventually used on patients with movement disorders.
    Proc SPIE 05/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: Brain near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is an emerging neurophysiological tool that combines straightforward activity localization with cost-economy, portability and patient compatibility. NIRS is proving its empirical utility across specific cognitive and emotional paradigms. However, a potential limitation is that it is not only sensitive to haemodynamic changes taking place in the cortex, and task-related cardiovascular responses expressed in the perfusion of extracranial layers may be confounding. Existing literature reports correlations between brain NIRS and systemic blood pressure, yet it falls short of establishing whether in normal participants the blood pressure changes encountered in experimental settings can have confounding effects. Here, we tested this hypothesis by performing two experimental manipulations while recording from superficial occipital cortex, encompassing striate and extrastriate regions. Visual stimulation with reversing chequerboards evoked cortical haemodynamic responses. Simultaneously and independently, transient systemic blood pressure changes were generated through rapid arm-raising. Shallow-penetration NIRS recordings, probing only extra-cerebral tissues, highlighted close haemodynamic coupling with blood pressure. A different coupling pattern was observed in deep-penetration recordings directed at haemodynamic signals from visual cortex. In absence of blood-pressure changes, NIRS signals tracked differences in visual stimulus duration. However when blood pressure was actively manipulated, this effect was absent and replaced by a very large pressure-related response. Our observations demonstrate that blood pressure fluctuations can exert confounding effects on brain NIRS, through expression in extracranial tissues and within the brain itself. We highlight the necessity for continuous blood pressure monitoring alongside brain NIRS, and for further research on methods to correct for physiological confounds.
    Journal of neuroscience methods 03/2011; 197(2):283-8. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Electrophysiological studies indicate that Unverricht-Lundborg's disease (ULD), the most common form of progressive myoclonus epilepsy in Europe, is characterized by the involvement of multiple cortical regions in degenerative changes that lead to enhanced excitation and deficient inhibition. We searched for the haemodynamic correlates of these effects using functional MRI (fMRI) of self-paced index extensions, a well-accepted task highlighting significant differences. EEG and fMRI were simultaneously acquired in 11 ULD patients and 16 controls, performing the index extensions individually (event-related task) as well as repetitively (block task). ERD/ERS analysis was performed for the EEG data in the alpha and beta bands. fMRI time-series were analyzed using the traditional general linear model, as well as with an assumption-free approach, and by means of cross-region correlations representing functional connectivity. In line with the existing literature, ULD patients had enhanced desynchronization in the alpha band and reduced post-movement synchronization in the beta band. By contrast, fMRI did not reveal any difference between the two groups; there were no activation intensity, latency or extent effects, no significant engagement of additional regions, and no changes to functional connectivity. We conclude that, so long as the patients are executing a task which does not induce obvious action myoclonus, the hypothesized abnormalities in pyramidal neuron and interneuron dynamics are relatively subtle, embodied in processes which are not metabolically-demanding and take place at a time-scale invisible to fMRI.
    Brain Topography 03/2011; 24(1):65-77. · 3.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To asses the characteristics of severe action myoclonus in three patients with progressive myoclonus epilepsy (PME) due to sialidosis. We assessed EEG-EMG coherence, relative power (RP) and bandwidth (BW) of the EMG-peak associated with myoclonus; we also evaluated somatosensory evoked potentials and long-loop reflexes (LLRs). We compared the findings with those obtained in ten Unverricht-Lundborg (UL) patients. The presentation of sialidosis included macular cherry-red spot, skeletal malformation and polyneuropathy in the infantile form and optic atrophy in the juvenile form. From its onset in adolescence myoclonus rapidly worsened, quickly leading to severe disability. In sialidosis patients, the EMG-peak was characterised by higher RP (p<0.01) and narrower BW (p<0.02) than in UL. EEG-EMG coherence values were higher (p<0.05) than in UL patients. Taking into account both sialidosis and UL patients, the coherence values and the RP of the EMG-peak were directly correlated with the severity of the myoclonus; while BW values were inversely correlated. All these measures showed extreme values in sialidosis patients. In the sialidosis patients, the strongly rhythmic recurrence of the jerks reflected on LLR, which included multiple components. Subtle differences indicate an especially high level of cortical motor synchronization in the sialidosis patients, which may account for their particularly severe motor impairment. Neurophysiological indexes indicating high EEG-EMG synchronization parallels the severity of the myoclonus.
    Epilepsy research 02/2011; 94(1-2):86-93. · 2.48 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Neurophysiology - CLIN NEUROPHYSIOL. 01/2011; 122.
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    ABSTRACT: We used electroencephalography (EEG)-polygraphic recordings to classify myoclonus in 109 patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) on the basis of its electromyography (EMG) pattern, time course, distribution, and EEG correlates. We recorded myoclonic jerks in 55 patients (50.4%), and we classified them as periodic myoclonus in 28, rhythmic in 13, and irregular in 20 (6 patients showed two types of myoclonus). Myoclonus occurred as a prominently negative event (interrupting the EMG discharge) in 10. Periodic sharp-wave complexes (PSWCs) were present in all but one patient with myoclonic jerks but were time-locked with EMG-bursts only in case of periodic myoclonus. Jerk-locked back averaging revealed a variable EEG-EMG transfer-time commonly exceeding that characterizing cortical myoclonus. Myoclonus was frequently associated with Met/Met polymorphism at codon 129 of the prion protein gene, but it was also observed in association with Met/Val or Val/Val polymorphisms provided that the EEG showed the presence of the PSWC pattern. The presence of enlarged somatosensory evoked potentials significantly correlated with the myoclonic presentation, as did MR signal hyperintensity involving the cortical mantle. Our observations on the basis of standard polygraphic criteria suggest that CJD associates with a remarkable variety of myoclonic jerks, and therefore different brain structures are probably involved as generators. The significant association between the presence of all myoclonus types with PSWCs suggests that hyperexcitable corticosubcortical loops are always required to generate (or allow) both myoclonus and the EEG complexes, either they are time locked or not.
    Movement Disorders 10/2010; 25(16):2818-27. · 4.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have demonstrated that the event-related potential (ERP) evoked by a note shows substantial differences depending on whether the note is part of a melodic context or presented in an unstructured repetition. In particular, the N2 component has been found to have considerably increased latency and a more frontal topography for notes presented in a melody. An open question is whether such effect is related to the 'meaningfulness' of a note sequence, that is due to the formation of abstract melodic entities, rather than more simply an indicator of cognitive load associated with processing a structurally-complex sequence as opposed to an unstructured repetition. In this study, we addressed this issue by recording ERPs from 10 healthy non-musicians listening to eight one-part unfamiliar tonal melodies and eight sequences of random notes. The two stimuli were matched for distribution of pitch, intervals and note duration as well as for entropy of the time-series of pitch and duration. While tonal melodies were rated more meaningful (p<0.001) and pleasant (p<0.001) by all participants, no effects were found for the N2 component amplitude (p> or =0.8) and latency (p=0.2). Combined with previous findings, this indicates that the N2 evoked by each individual note responds to the structural complexity of the note sequence, i.e., to the presence of pitch and duration changes, but not to higher-level processing related to the formation of abstract melodic entities. In contrast, we found that the amplitude of the P2 component was marginally (p=0.04) elevated for random notes as compared to tonal melodies. This may be related to attentional modulation, or more specifically to associative components of auditory processing.
    Brain research bulletin 08/2010; 83(1-2):23-8. · 2.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Myoclonus has different clinical and neurophysiological features in patients with Unverricht-Lundborg (ULD) and Lafora body disease (LBD), probably because of a different cortical hyperexcitability profile. To investigate the role of intracortical inhibition in such different presentations, we used paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in ten ULD and five LBD patients, all with a positive molecular diagnosis. All of the patients were treated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). In comparison with healthy subjects, both patient groups had significantly defective short intracortical inhibition (SICI), however LBD patients, but not ULD and healthy subjects, had a clear inhibition at ISI 6 ms and ISI 10 ms. Moreover, defective long interval cortical inhibition (LICI) was found in LBD but not ULD patients. The substantial reduction in SICI suggests that both ULD and LBD patients have impaired inhibitory interneuron pools which are involved in the generation of cortical reflex myoclonus, whereas the inhibition found in LBD patients at ISI 6 and 10 ms, as well the reduced inhibition found at long intervals, suggest a more complex circuitry dysfunction possibly involving both excitatory and inhibitory systems. These findings are probably related to the high epileptogenic propensity characterizing LBD with respect to ULD and to the more severely distorted neuronal network resulting from the pathogenesis of LBD.
    Epilepsy research 05/2010; 89(2-3):232-7. · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the EEG recorded in photosensitive idiopathic generalised epilepsy (IGE) patients at rest and during 14Hz IPS, frequency capable of inducing photoparoxysmal responses (PPRs). Power spectrum density and coherence profiles were estimated using a block autoregressive parametric model (AR) in 28 patients and 22 controls. At rest, the intra- and inter-hemispheric coherence spectra showed a significantly larger number of coherence peaks in the gamma band in patients with respect to controls. During intermittent photic stimulation (IPS), coherent gamma activity is mainly presented as IPS frequency harmonics; moreover, the patients' mean coherence values significantly increased. In six patients re-evaluated with IPS after putting on glasses with Z1 blue lens (which counteracts PPR) the spectral and coherence profiles tended to return to the resting ones. Patients are endowed with inherited EEG hyper-synchrony as shown by the large number of coherence peaks detectable under resting conditions, whereas IPS enhances intra- and inter-hemispheric mean coherence values in the gamma band. The persistence of alpha activity peaks during IPS in most controls but not in patients suggests that the alpha generating network plays a significant role in counteracting PPR. Both gamma and alpha EEG generators are involved in the PPR generation and in the widespread synchronisation characterising the IGE-associated photosensitivity.
    Clinical neurophysiology: official journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology 03/2010; 121(3):318-24. · 3.12 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Neurophysiology - CLIN NEUROPHYSIOL. 01/2010; 121.
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    ABSTRACT: We performed simultaneous acquisition of EEG-fMRI in seven patients with Unverricht-Lundborg disease (ULD) and in six healthy controls using self-paced finger extension as a motor task. The event-related desynchronization/synchronization (ERD/ERS) analysis showed a greater and more diffuse alpha desynchronization in central regions and a strongly reduced post-movement beta-ERS in patients compared with controls, suggesting a significant dysfunction of the mechanisms regulating active movement and movement end. The event-related hemodynamic response obtained from fMRI showed delayed BOLD peak latency in the contralateral primary motor area suggesting a less efficient activity of the neuronal populations driving fine movements, which are specifically impaired in ULD.
    Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience 01/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: We aimed this study at verifying the appropriateness of bivariate time-varying autoregressive models in detecting EEG-EMG relationships and identifying the characteristics of myoclonus-related EEG changes in patients with two forms of progressive myoclonus epilepsy (PME). Our results indicate that TVAR analysis was able to detect the presence of prominent peaks of EEG-EMG coherence between the EMG and contralateral frontocentral EEG derivation in all patients, revealing differences in time-frequency spectral profiles associated to the two different forms of PMEs, possibly correlated with the severity of myoclonus.
    Conference proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference 01/2010; 2010:1642-5.
  • Clinical Neurophysiology - CLIN NEUROPHYSIOL. 01/2010; 121.
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    Comp. Int. and Neurosc. 01/2010; 2010.