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Research Portfolio

GRANT TITLE:

Cognition in people with epilepsy and their offspring: How does epilepsy and its treatment affect brain function?

GRANT TYPE:

EPILEPSY RESEARCH INSTITUTE NORTH WEST DOCTORAL TRAINING CENTRE

grant amount:

£287,558

lead investigator:

Dr Rebecca Bromley, Professor Simon Keller

Co-Investigators:

-Professor Tony Marson

institution:

University of Manchester and University of Liverpool

Background

People with epilepsy often experience challenges with cognition, such as problems with thinking, memory, and attention. Common anti-seizure medications can make cognitive difficulties in epilepsy worse, and some of these medications are harmful to developing babies when taken by pregnant women.

"Epilepsy is more than just seizures. People with epilepsy often experience challenges with cognition and, despite the importance of this topic for people with epilepsy, research on this topic has been largely overlooked. Our Doctoral Training Centre, split across the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool in partnership with local NHS Trusts, will combine world-leading expertise in pre-clinical and clinical brain research in order to answer these important questions.

The Study

This Doctoral Training Centre, split across the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool and in partnership with local NHS Trusts, will comprise six individual PhD projects. These complementary projects will all address this topic to increase our understanding of how epilepsy and its treatment with anti-seizure medications impact cognition across the lifespan.

The six projects fall into three categories:

  1. Cognition in people with epilepsy:

Project 1: Investigating the changes to cognition over time and what factors influence them using studies with humans.

Project 2: Investigating how seizures and antiseizure medications have an impact on cognitive processes in animal and human cell studies.

  1. Cognitive outcomes in the children of people with epilepsy:

Project 3: Following up the children born to women with epilepsy to understand the impact of antiseizure medications on their cognition.

Project 4: Using animal and human cell investigations to uncover which antiseizure medications disrupt foetal brain development and how they do this.

  1. Decision making in the clinic about cognitive risk in people with epilepsy and their future offspring:

Project 5: Working with people with epilepsy and their families to understand how they view the impact of antiseizure medications on their cognitive functioning.

Project 6: Working with people with epilepsy to understand how they use complex information about the benefits and risks associated with their treatment to make decisions when planning a pregnancy.

Significance

The establishment of this North West Doctoral Training Centre will build capacity, creating the epilepsy researchers of the future. These projects will help us to understand the disruption that epilepsy and antiseizure medications cause to cognitive processes. The results from these projects will also improve clinical practice by providing evidence-based decision making and counselling tools for cognition in epilepsy.