NeuroImage. Clinical 2016 10 2313() 228-236 doi 10.1016/j.nicl.2016.10.016
Stress, pain, injury, and psychological trauma all induce arousal-mediated changes in brain network organization. The associated, high level of arousal may disrupt motor-sensory processing and result in aberrant patterns of motor function, including functional neurological symptoms. We used the auditory oddball paradigm to assess cortical arousal in children and adolescents with functional neurological symptom disorder.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) data was collected in fifty-seven children and adolescents (41 girls; 16 boys, aged 8.5-18 years) with acute functional neurological symptoms and age- sex- matched controls during a conventional auditory oddball task. The high-resolution fragmentary decomposition technique was used to analyse the amplitude of event-related potentials (ERPs) to target tones at midline sites (Fz, Cz, and Pz).
Compared to age- and sex-matched controls, and across all three midline sites, children and adolescents with functional neurological symptoms showed increased amplitude of all ERP components (P50, N100, P200, N200, and P300) (t-value range 2.28-8.20; p value-range 0.023 to < 0.001) to the emotionally-neutral auditory stimulus. CONCLUSIONS
Our findings add to a growing literature indicating that a baseline state of high arousal may be a precondition for generating functional neurological symptoms, a finding that helps explain why a range of psychological and physiological stressors can trigger functional neurological symptoms in some patients. Interventions that target cortical arousal may be central to the treatment of paediatric patients with functional neurological symptom disorder.