Postdoc, Stanford University
Absence seizures are characterized by brief periods of unconsciousness accompanied by a lapse in motor function that can occur hundreds of times throughout the day. Outside of these frequent moments of unconsciousness, approximately a third of patients experience treatment-resistant attention impairments. Convergent evidence suggests prefrontal cortex (PFC) dysfunction may underlie attention impairments in affected patients. To test this, we use a combination of slice physiology, fiber photometry, optogenetics, and behavior in the Scn8a +/- mouse model of absence epilepsy. In these mice, we identify altered circuit phenomena during cue presentation in vivo that are linked to attention dysfunction. Further, we find that these phenomena can be predictive of poorer performance in WT littermates. Our findings highlight important mechanisms for attention and point to potential therapeutic targets for cognitive comorbidities in absence epilepsy and other diseases with attention dysfunction.