Tracing topics and trends in drug-resistant epilepsy research using a natural language processing–based topic modeling approach

Mert Karabacak, Pemla Jagtiani, Ankita Jain, Fedor Panov, Konstantinos Margetis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder affecting over 70 million people worldwide. Although many patients achieve seizure control with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), 30%–40% develop drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE), where seizures persist despite adequate trials of AEDs. DRE is associated with reduced quality of life, increased mortality and morbidity, and greater socioeconomic challenges. The continued intractability of DRE has fueled exponential growth in research that aims to understand and treat this serious condition. However, synthesizing this vast and continuously expanding DRE literature to derive insights poses considerable difficulties for investigators and clinicians. Conventional review methods are often prolonged, hampering the timely application of findings. More-efficient approaches to analyze the voluminous research are needed. In this study, we utilize a natural language processing (NLP)–based topic modeling approach to examine the DRE publication landscape, uncovering key topics and trends. Documents were retrieved from Scopus, preprocessed, and modeled using BERTopic. This technique employs transformer models like BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) for contextual understanding, thereby enabling accurate topic categorization. Analysis revealed 18 distinct topics spanning various DRE research areas. The 10 most common topics, including “AEDs,” “Neuromodulation Therapy,” and “Genomics,” were examined further. “Cannabidiol,” “Functional Brain Mapping,” and “Autoimmune Encephalitis” emerged as the hottest topics of the current decade, and were examined further. This NLP methodology provided valuable insights into the evolving DRE research landscape, revealing shifting priorities and declining interests. Moreover, we demonstrate an efficient approach to synthesizing and visualizing patterns within extensive literature that could be applied to other research fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-872
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • drug-resistant
  • epilepsy
  • hot topic
  • natural language processing
  • research trends
  • topic modeling


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