Kindling effect

Last revised by Frank Gaillard on 21 Aug 2023

The kindling effect is a neurological phenomenon encountered experimentally in animal models and is thought to play an important role in the development of epilepsy in humans 1,2.

The repeated application of sub-threshold electrical or chemical stimulations to specific brain regions results in a cascade of events, altering the excitability of neurons and their interconnections. This process results in the formation of hyperexcitable neural networks that are primed to generate spontaneous seizures 1,2.

The temporal lobe, particularly the limbic system, is particularly susceptible to kindling. This is thought to be due to the inherent neuroplasticity required to form new memories and the extensive connections to other parts of the brain. This explains, at least in part, why temporal lobe epilepsy is so common and why temporal lobe lesions, particularly those involving the mesial temporal structures (see long-term epilepsy-associated tumors), disproportionately lead to seizures 1,2.

History and etymology

Kindling was first described by Graham Goddard in 1967 2.

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