Grant winner 2015

“This pilot study will help facilitate larger studies into the mechanisms of depression in epilepsy, which could ultimately contribute to the development of further treatment strategies.” Dr Jacqueline Foong (pictured)

Grant type: Pilot grant in epilepsy

Principal investigator: Dr Jacqueline Foong

InstitutionUniversity College London

Amount: £29,977

Duration: 6 months

Scientific titlePathophysiological mechanisms of interictal depression in temporal lobe epilepsy

Why is this research needed?
Depression is common in people with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), but too often it goes unrecognised and treatment is delayed. Depression not only adds to the burden of coping with epilepsy, it can have a negative impact on relationships and employment – thereby significantly decreasing the person’s quality of life. Suicide rates are also increased amongst people with epilepsy compared to the general population, and this is likely to be a result of depression.

However despite many people being affected, the mechanisms that underlie depression in TLE are still unclear.

What are the aims?The function of the frontal regions of the brain can be affected in TLE, but it is not known if and how this contributes to depression. Dr Foong and her colleagues will explore this.

How will the research be carried out?
The team will use brain imaging techniques in combination with psychological tests to investigate how the frontal areas of the brain work in a small group of people with TLE who have also been diagnosed with depression. They will also examine a small group of people with TLE but no history of depression – or any other psychological disorder – and compare the two.

What difference will it make?
The results of this pilot project will increase our understanding of the mechanisms involved in depression in TLE, and in the future they will hopefully help doctors to identify people with TLE who may be more vulnerable to it (allowing more prompt diagnosis and treatment). Ultimately this study may even help scientists to develop new, more effective treatments for depression in different types of epilepsy.