Cortical stimulation for treatment of neurological disorders of hyperexcitability: A role of homeostatic plasticity

Zhi Chai, Cungen Ma, Xiaoming Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


Hyperexcitability of neural network is a key neurophysiological mechanism in several neurological disorders including epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and tinnitus. Although standard paradigm of pharmacological management of them is to suppress this hyperexcitability, such as having been exemplified by the use of certain antiepileptic drugs, their frequent refractoriness to drug treatment suggests likely different pathophysiological mechanism. Because the pathogenesis in these disorders exhibits a transition from an initial activity loss after injury or sensory deprivation to subsequent hyperexcitability and paroxysmal discharges, this process can be regarded as a process of functional compensation similar to homeostatic plasticity regulation, in which a set level of activity in neural network is maintained after injury-induced activity loss through enhanced network excitability. Enhancing brain activity, such as cortical stimulation that is found to be effective in relieving symptoms of these disorders, may reduce such hyperexcitability through homeostatic plasticity mechanism. Here we review current evidence of homeostatic plasticity in the mechanism of acquired epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and tinnitus and the effects and mechanism of cortical stimulation. Establishing a role of homeostatic plasticity in these disorders may provide a theoretical basis on their pathogenesis as well as guide the development and application of therapeutic approaches through electrically or pharmacologically stimulating brain activity for treating these disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-38
Number of pages5
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • brain injury
  • cerebral cortex
  • cortical stimulation
  • epilepsy
  • homeostatic plasticity
  • hyperexcitability
  • neuropathic pain
  • tinnitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience

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