Epilepsy might be linked to structural differences in brain

Epilepsy might be involved in rather widespread structural differences in our brain in comparison with the previous estimations. A recent study led by the researchers at UCL along with Keck School of Medicine of USC stated that the condition known as ‘Epilepsy’ is linked with the volume as well as thickness based differences present in grey matter from several regions in the brain.

The study of this research was published in the journal named ‘Brain’ which involved the largest neuroimaging ever conducted for the brains of people suffering from epilepsy. The study showed that the condition is involved with vast differences in the structural pattern of the brain which is also applicable for the benign epilepsy type with controllable seizures. The abnormalities in the brain identified by the researchers were actually subtle with no noticeable loss of brain function.

Sanjay Sisodiya, the lead author of the study from UCL Institute of Neurology & Epilepsy Society stated that the researchers found that even the common epilepsies which were considered benign have vast differences in the brain matter. The study has not yet assessed any potential impact of the differences in brain structure; however, there is more to the study of epilepsy than previously assumed.

Epilepsy affects a global population of up to 0.6 to 1.5 percent with numerous symptoms and conditions with a particular tendency for each seizure type. The study for this medical condition involved the participation of global ENIGMA-Epilepsy Consortium with headquarters at Keck School of Medicine of USC. The study brought together the data from 24 different research centers located across North as well as South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Brain measures for more than 2,149 people were extracted with MRI scans that suffered from epilepsy. The same was compared to the healthy control group that was 1,727 in number.

The team located a reduced thickness of the grey matter in the outer brain section (cortex) with a reduced volume for the subcortical regions of the brain in comparison with the control group. A reduced thickness and volume meant epilepsy attacks of longer duration. The people suffering from epilepsy also exhibited a lower volume in the right area of the thalamus which is responsible for motor and sensory signals. This was previously associated with only certain epilepsies. A reduced thickness of the motor cortex impacts the control for body movement.

The subtle differences in the brain of epileptic patients could be detected only due to the large data provided to the researchers.  The study also defined the differences between subgroups in the epileptic patients which reflect the genetic pattern of the patients. The structural differences in various regions of the brain conclude that this neurological disorder is a network-based disorder that is spread all over the brain.

The findings also need to be backed up by a study of the longitudinal as well as genetic studies of the brain which can define these structural differences. The study was unable to conclude whether these differences caused the seizures or could be the consequence of the seizure itself. The progress of the same over time was also unknown. However, these patterns could be the key to study the disorder with possible future treatments.

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