Flexible realistic simulation of seizure occurrence recapitulating statistical properties of seizure diaries



A realistic seizure diary simulator is currently unavailable for many research needs, including clinical trial analysis, and evaluation of seizure detection and seizure forecasting tools. In recent years, important statistical features of seizure diaries have been characterized. These include: (1) heterogeneity of individual seizure frequencies, (2) the relation between average seizure rate and standard deviation, (3) multiple risk cycles, (4) seizure clusters, and (5) limitations on inter-seizure intervals. The present study unifies these features into a single model.


Our approach, Cyclic Heterogeneous Overdispersed Clustered Open-source L-relationship Adjustable Temporally limited E-diary Simulator (CHOCOLATES) is based on a hierarchical model centered on a Gamma Poisson generator with several modifiers. This model accounts for the aforementioned statistical properties. The model was validated by simulating 10,000 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of medication to compare with 23 historical RCTs. Metrics of 50% responder rate (RR50) and median percent change (MPC) were evaluated. We also used CHOCOLATES as input to a seizure forecasting tool to test the flexibility of the model. We examined the area under the ROC curve (AUC) for test data with and without cycles and clusters.


The model recapitulated typical findings in 23 historical RCTs without the necessity of introducing an additional “placebo effect”. The model produced the following RR50 values: placebo: 17±4%; drug 38±5%; and the following MPC values: placebo: 13±6%; drug 40±4%. These values are similar to historical data: for RR50: placebo, 21±10%, drug: 43±13%; and for MPC: placebo: 17±10%, drug: 41±11%. The seizure forecasts achieved AUC of 0.68 with cycles and clusters, whereas without them the AUC was 0.51.


CHOCOLATESrepresents the most realistic seizure occurrence simulator to date, based on observations from thousands of patients in different contexts. This tool is open-source and flexible, and can be used for many applications, including clinical trial simulation and testing of seizure forecasting tools.