Review Article

Quantifying the deficit—imaging neurobehavioural impairment in childhood epilepsy

Michael Yoong


Background: Neurobehavioral impairments such as learning difficulty, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mood or behavioural problems are known to be increased in children with epilepsy; however, they remain under-recognised and often cause considerable morbidity. Quantitative neuroimaging techniques offer a potential avenue to improving our understanding of the underlying pathological basis for these disorders, aiding with diagnosis and risk stratification.
Methods: A systematic review was undertaken for original research articles involving magnetic resonance imaging in children with epilepsy and one or more neurobehavioural impairments. Studies were reviewed with respect to patient population, methodology and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings.
Results: A total of 25 studies were identified and included in this review. The majority of studies looked at single impairments, commonly cognitive impairment or ADHD, with few studies reporting on other impairments. Reductions in cortical grey matter and disruptions of functional and structural brain networks were associated with poorer cognitive performance and disruptions of grey and white matter within a fronto-striatal-cerebellar network associated with ADHD. Insufficient studies were available to report on other impairments.
Conclusions: Relatively few studies exist in this field and those that do are methodologically diverse. Further investigation is required to determine if the changes reported to date are epilepsy syndrome specific or have broader applicability.

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