Author summary: Understanding and predicting the generation of seizures in epileptic patients is fundamental to improving the quality of life of the more than 1% of the world population who suffer from this illness. Although seizure prediction has made important advances over the last decade, there is a lack of understanding of the common principles explaining the transitions that brain activity undergoes before a seizure.
In this study, we characterized this transition from a novel perspective grounded on the mathematical analysis of continuous recordings inside the brains of epileptic patients over several days using depth electrodes. We show that the critical period preceding a seizure unfolds in a two-stage process. It begins with a phase of several hours when the highly correlated activity in the preceding days is altered, and it proceeds with a second, shorter phase of decrease in global connectivity before the seizure onset. Furthermore, our analysis reveals that these global alterations are more locally manifested in areas that are selected for surgical treatment. Our study suggests that preseizure activity might follow global stereotyped dynamics that could be targeted and modulated to prevent epileptic seizures.