Scalp EEG for the diagnosis of epilepsy and photosensitivity in the baboon

C. Ákos Szabó, Michelle Leland, László Sztonák, Santiago Restrepo, Richard Haines, Michael A. Mahaney, Jeff T. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Spontaneous seizures have been observed in several baboon species housed at the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC), including Papio hamadryas anubis and cynocephalus/anubis, hamadryas/ anubis, and papio/anubis hybrids. The goal of this study was to establish a noninvasive, reliable electroencephalographic technique to characterize epilepsy phenotypes and assess photosensitivity in these subspecies. Thirty baboons with witnessed seizures, and 15 asymptomatic baboons underwent scalp electroencephalograms (EEGs) with photic stimulation (PS). The sensitivity and specificity of surface EEG for identifying interictal epileptic discharges (IEDs) in baboons with witnessed seizures were examined. The morphology of IEDs, electroclinical features of seizures and responses to PS, reproducibility of EEG findings, and intrarater reliability were also evaluated. Twenty-three seizure baboons (77%) demonstrated IEDs, predominantly with frequencies of 4-6 Hz in 18 baboons and 2-3 Hz in six baboons. Two seizure animals had a mixture of 2-3-Hz and 4-6-Hz IEDs. All animals with 2-3-Hz IEDs were 3 years old or younger. Myoclonic seizures (MS) and generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) were recorded in 13 baboons (43%). PS activated IEDs in 15 baboons (50%) and seizures in nine baboons. The presence of IEDs or seizures was not associated with a particular gender or species (Fisher exact test, α = 0.05). Seizures were more common in animals >3 years old, while PS-induced IEDs and seizures were more prevalent in P.h. anubis/cynocephalus crosses compared to P.h. anubis. In the asymptomatic controls, IEDs were recorded in five baboons (33%), and photoparoxysmal responses were observed in two (13%). Surface EEG is a sensitive and reliable instrument for characterizing the epilepsy encountered in Papio species. Electroclinically, the seizure animals had generalized epilepsy with photosensitivity. The variation in IED morphology may be age-related or it may reflect different epileptic phenotypes. Ketamine provoked IEDs and seizures in most seizure animals and only in a few asymptomatic baboons; therefore, it may enhance the sensitivity of surface EEG for detecting a predisposition to epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy
  • Ketamine
  • Papio
  • Photosensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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