Finding brain imaging measures that help to predict memory outcomes in children after epilepsy surgery: Final Report

Posted Nov 22 2018 in News from Epilepsy Research UK

This is the final report for a 2015 pilot grant for £21,666 awarded to Professor Stefano Seri, Professor Amanda Wood, and Dr Elaine Foley at Aston University

Epilepsy surgery in children offers the prospect of fewer seizures and improved overall quality of life; however there is a risk that brain regions that are important for cognition (thinking, learning and memory) will be affected. In adults, imaging-based techniques have emerged that can help to predict who will suffer cognitive effects after epilepsy surgery, but it is not clear how applicable these are to children, whose brains are still developing.

Using brain scans that are tolerated well by young patients Prof Seri and colleagues have measured brain activity of children with and without epilepsy while solving memory and language tasks. They also measured their overall ability level, memory and attention skills. The initial findings have shown that younger children tend to use both sides of the brain with the same intensity when trying to memorise information, compared to older children and adults who use one side more than the other. The researchers will now compare the activation in the brains of children with epilepsy to that of children without epilepsy to determine whether scanning prior to surgery can predict whether a child’s cognitive skills are impaired post-operatively.

Professor Seri said: “We were fully supported by ERUK during the grant period and are grateful to the Charity for having given us the opportunity to share our ideas and work with the public and potential financial supporters during an event held on the occasion of the ILAE meeting in Leeds.”

“Pilot grant funding from ERUK has been invaluable in our goal to improve care of children with refractory epilepsy. Not only could we test our ideas so that we were eligible for large grants to support a full study, but we have been able to complete sufficient work to create a publication that will influence our field in the short-term. The award also brought together two teams who otherwise couldn’t have worked together and this led to new research opportunities and collaborations.”

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