- focal drug-resistant epilepsy
- epilepsy surgery
- epileptogenic zone
- graph theory
- brain networks
In the context of focal drug-resistant epilepsies, the surgical resection of the epileptogenic zone (EZ), the cortical region responsible for the onset, early seizures organization, and propagation, may be the only therapeutic option for reducing or suppressing seizures. The rather high rate of failure in epilepsy surgery of extra-temporal epilepsies highlights that the precise identification of the EZ, mandatory objective to achieve seizure freedom, is still an unsolved problem that requires more sophisticated methods of investigation. Despite the wide range of non-invasive investigations, intracranial stereo-EEG (SEEG) recordings still represent, in many patients, the gold standard for the EZ identification. In this contest, the EZ localization is still based on visual analysis of SEEG, inevitably affected by the drawback of subjectivity and strongly time-consuming. Over the last years, considerable efforts have been made to develop advanced signal analysis techniques able to improve the identification of the EZ. Particular attention has been paid to those methods aimed at quantifying and characterizing the interactions and causal relationships between neuronal populations, since is nowadays well assumed that epileptic phenomena are associated with abnormal changes in brain synchronization mechanisms, and initial evidence has shown the suitability of this approach for the EZ localization. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the different EEG signal processing methods applied to study connectivity between distinct brain cortical regions, namely in focal epilepsies. In addition, with the aim of localizing the EZ, the approach based on graph theory will be described, since the study of the topological properties of the networks has strongly improved the study of brain connectivity mechanisms.