Mid-Atlantic Consortium Newsletter Summer 2013

Focal Epilepsy and Brain Development

Research conducted at the Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) in Washington, D.C.,   and directed by Madison Berl, Ph.D., focuses on the neurological and behavioral effects of childhood epilepsy, and how these effects influence mental development and specific brain functions. This study looks specifically at seizures that originate in focal brain regions, and includes several projects within the Comprehensive Pediatric Epilepsy Program at CNMC. State-of-the-art technology is being used to generate both structural and functional images of the brain via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The findings are correlated with detailed measures of mental abilities.

Participants in this program will include children ranging in age from eight to 15, both with and without focal epilepsy. To help reduce individual differences in brain organization within these two groups, and to make sure all participants fully understand the mental tests used in this research, only right-handed children fluent in English will be studied. By correlating brain function and structure to performance in tests of mental abilities, the investigators hope to expand our understanding of how seizures affect brain development, along with the critical links between brain function and those abilities. They also hope that the knowledge provided by this study will contribute to the development of new strategies for improving treatments and reducing the severity of impairments for children with epilepsy.

For more information, contact Lauren Zimmaro by phone at 202-476-4755 or by email at lzimmaro@childrensnational.org.