Elevated photic response is followed by a rapid decay and depressed state in ictogenic networks (2022)

Myren-Svelstad, S., Jamali, A., Ophus, S.S., D’gama, P.P., Ostenrath, A.M., Mutlu, A.K., Hoffshagen, H.H., Hotz, A.L., Neuhauss, S.C.F., Jurisch-Yaksi, N. & Yaksi, E. (2022).Elevated photic response is followed by a rapid decay and depressed state in ictogenic networks. Epilepsia, 00, 1– 18.

doi: 10.1111/epi.17380



The switch between non-seizure and seizure states involves profound alterations in network excitability and synchrony. In this study, we aimed to identify and compare features of neural excitability and dynamics across multiple zebrafish seizure and epilepsy models.


Inspired by video-electroencephalography recordings in patients, we developed a framework to study spontaneous and photic-evoked neural and locomotor activity in zebrafish larvae, by combining high-throughput behavioral tracking and whole-brain in vivo two-photon calcium imaging.


Our setup allowed us to dissect behavioral and physiological features that are divergent or convergent across multiple models. We observed that spontaneous locomotor and neural activity exhibit great diversity across models. Yet, during photic stimulation, hyperexcitability and rapid response dynamics were well conserved across multiple models, highlighting the reliability of photic-evoked activity for high-throughput assays. Intriguingly, in several models, we observed that the initial elevated photic response is often followed by rapid decay of neural activity and a prominent depressed state. Elevated photic response and following depressed state in seizure-prone networks are significantly reduced by the anti-seizure medication valproic acid. Finally, rapid decay and depression of neural activity following photic stimulation temporally overlaps with slow recruitment of astroglial calcium signals that is enhanced in seizure-prone networks.


We argue that fast decay of neural activity and depressed states following photic response are likely due to homeostatic mechanisms triggered by excessive neural activity. An improved understanding of the interplay between elevated and depressed excitability states might suggest tailored epilepsy therapies.