The Targeted Research Initiative for Cognitive and Psychiatric Aspects of Epilepsy supports research leading to new insights into the diagnosis etiology, complications and treatment of persons with epilepsy and mood disorders including comorbid depression, anxiety, suicidality, other psychiatric symptoms; and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. 

SPRING 2013 AWARDS

Karen Blackmon, Ph.D.
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Neuroimaging Features of Cognitive Dysfunction in Focal Cortical Dysplasia

Focal Cortical Dysplasia (FCD) is a common cause of treatment-resistant epilepsy. It is associated with subtle brain lesions that are often located in or near areas that are important for performing everyday functions, such as speech and learning new tasks. However, very little is known about which features of FCD might disrupt these crucial functions and increase the risk of developing a cognitive disorder. The most common feature on brain scans of FCD patients is a loss in sharp contrast between the white and grey matter borders of the brain – a feature calling blurring. A previous study found an association between regional blurring and reduced language abilities in healthy individuals. The current study plans to assess whether abnormalities in blurring are associated with cognitive impairments in patients with FCD. Findings from this investigation will determine whether blurring can: (1) be used as a non-invasive probe to investigate the functional vulnerability of tissue both within and outside of the visually identifiable lesion; (2) identify individuals at greater risk for cognitive impairments; and (3) be combined with neuropsychological test results to better localize regional tissue vulnerability in focal epilepsy.

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