Master in Neuropsychology (2021)
2021-2022, 2022-2023, 2023-2024: "Bourse en l'honneur de Isabelle de Borchgrave "
Characterizing the impact of interictal epileptic discharges on brain-behaviour patterns related to learning and cognitive impairments in self-limited epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes.
Queen Fabiola Children’s University Hospital (HUDERF); Neurology - Laboratory of Pediatric Research
Laboratoire de Cartographie Fonctionnelle Cérébrale (LCFC) at UNI, Erasme Hospital, ULB, Brussels, Belgium
The overarching goal of this 3-years doctoral project is to characterize the neurophysiological mechanisms subtending the declarative (verbal)/procedural (motor) learning deficits in children with SLECTS and their association with (i) cognitive impairments and (ii) the presence of IEDs during SWS.
Self-limited Focal Epilepsy (SLFE) is the most common electroclinical epilepsy syndrome in children. Recent studies have shown that they are frequently associated with learning disorders like language delay, attention deficits, motor coordination problems, memory deficits and behavioural problems. These cognitive and learning deficits are important to identify, characterize and treat adequately as they may negatively impact children’s academic achievements, mental health and quality-of-life.
On the contrary of seizures that are usually infrequent, children with SLFE have very frequent Interictal Epileptiform Discharges (IEDs), witnessing excessive synchronization of a group of neurons responsible for epilepsy. Several studies have shown that sleep has an important effect on memory consolidation in Typically Developing (TD) children and adults. As IEDs are more frequent during sleep than awake in SLFE children, one hypothesis could be that IEDs during sleep disrupt memory sleep-dependent consolidation, explaining why learning disorders are more frequent in SLFE than in TD children. Even though striking evidence of less efficient learning and cognitive functions in children with SLFE have been reported, the brain pathophysiological mechanisms associated with these deficits remain unexplored.
To fill this gap, the present doctoral project aims to test at the behavioural and neurophysiological levels, learning, cognitive and motor difficulties in children with SLFE and their relations with the frequency of IEDs during sleep. Results will provide a better understanding of learning-related brain processes that may lead to learning, cognitive and motor impairments observed in SLFE.