Neurophysiology of Juvenile and Progressive Myoclonic Epilepsy

Jayant N. Acharya, Vinita J. Acharya

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Myoclonus can be epileptic or nonepileptic. Epileptic myoclonus has been defined in clinical, neurophysiological, and neuroanatomical terms. Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) is typically considered to be an adolescent-onset idiopathic generalized epilepsy with a combination of myoclonic, generalized tonic-clonic, and absence seizures and normal cognitive status that responds well to anti-seizure medications but requires lifelong treatment. EEG shows generalized epileptiform discharges and photosensitivity. Recent observations indicate that the clinical picture of JME is heterogeneous and a number of neuropsychological and imaging studies have shown structural and functional abnormalities in the frontal lobes and thalamus. Advances in neurophysiology and imaging suggest that JME may not be a truly generalized epilepsy, in that restricted cortical and subcortical networks appear to be involved rather than the entire brain. Some patients with JME may be refractory to anti-seizure medications and attempts have been made to identify neurophysiological biomarkers predicting resistance. Progressive myoclonic epilepsy is a syndrome with multiple specific causes. It is distinct from JME because of the occurrence of progressive neurologic dysfunction in addition to myoclonus and generalized tonic-clonic seizures but may sometimes be difficult to distinguish from JME or misdiagnosed as drug-resistant JME. This article provides an overview of progressive myoclonic epilepsy and focuses on the clinical and neurophysiological findings in the two most commonly recognized forms of progressive myoclonic epilepsy - Unverricht-Lundborg disease (EPM1) and Lafora disease (EPM2). A variety of neurophysiological tests can be used to distinguish between JME and progressive myoclonic epilepsy and between EPM1 and EPM2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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