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About us Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences Organization News PhD Defences BSS

Epilepsy out of control

when frontal lobe epilepsy becomes more than seizures
PhD ceremony:Ms L. (Lydia) van den Berg
When:April 19, 2021
Supervisor:prof. dr. J.J. van der Meere
Co-supervisor:dr. A.W. de weerd
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Epilepsy out of control

"Children with a specific form of epilepsy in the frontal lobe of the brain have problems that compare well with brain damage. The seizures disrupt the brain and thereby also brain development. Children with this form of epilepsy can exhibit severely abnormal behavior, incomparable to other forms of epilepsy."

These are some of the conclusions of new research into the relationship between problems in the control functions of the brain (executive functions) and behavioral problems in school-aged children with frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE). It is striking in this studied group, without brain injury, that severe aberrant behavior is regularly seen, in accordance with patients with frontal brain injury.

The frontal lobe of the brain is more often linked to the executive functions, which are the control functions of the brain that are essential for achieving goal-oriented and adapted behavior. The studied group clearly showed problems in the areas of impulse control and adaptive behavior. It remains unclear which children are more vulnerable to developing these problems. Longer duration of epilepsy and early seizure debut seem to be risk factors. Children with FLE often have nocturnal seizures and sleep worse as a result. With medication, these seizures can be reduced, with the children also showing fewer behavioral problems. These problems did not disappear completely, which suggests that there is also an underlying cause for both the epilepsy and the behavioral problems.

There is clear evidence that problems in impulse control at an early age are related to behavioral and psychiatric problems later in life. Early intervention can reduce or even prevent later problems in this specific group.