Grant winner 2015

“Predicting which children are at greater risk for memory deficits after epilepsy surgery is still a significant clinical challenge. Our study will address this problem by designing and validating a developmentally appropriate brain imaging test.” Professor Stefano Seri (pictured)

Grant type: Pilot grant in epilepsy

Principal investigator: Professor Stefano Seri

Institution: Aston University

Amount: £21,666

Duration: 24 months

Scientific titleIdentifying developmentally-appropriate non-invasive functional imaging paradigms to predict cognitive outcome after paediatric epilepsy surgery

Why is this research needed?
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).

What are the aims?
Professor Seri and his team will examine new ways to help the prediction of cognitive problems after epilepsy surgery in children.

How will the research be carried out?
The group will use non-invasive brain scans to assess activity in the brains of children with and without epilepsy during a memory task. They will also measure the children’s overall ability level, memory and attention skills. The children with epilepsy will undergo testing both before and after surgery, and the results will be compared. All of the data collected will be used to try and identify parameters that will help to predict children’s cognitive outcomes after epilepsy surgery.

What difference will it make?
This small pilot study will help to determine whether non-invasive scanning prior to epilepsy surgery in children can predict cognitive problems later on. It will also help to define the best brain activity measures to use in order to make this assessment. The information gained will enable Professor Seri and his team to apply for further funding for a larger study, and they hope to develop evidence-based imaging tools for clinical use in the medium term (approximately 4 years).