Epilepsy is typically understood as a disease where the brain represents a complex network with regions and/or sub-networks in which normal excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance is perturbed. The resulting repertoire of dynamics includes adverse effects such as seizures. Neuroimaging methods such as EEG and fMRI can provide a window into these networks, however, they are generally only able to measure large-scale aggregate activity (e.g. at the regional or lobar level) whereas alterations in connectivity and structure often occur at a smaller scale.
Recent advances in MRI technology have allowed for cortical layer-dependent high (sub-millimetre) spatial resolution fMRI which has been used to address questions regarding the functioning of cortical circuits. To date, this technology has not been used to study patients but it is ideally placed to answer questions regarding alterations in E/I balance in patients with epilepsy (PWE).
Our unique position within King’s Health Partners provides access to large groups of PWE, and an ultra-high field MRI system capable of imaging at the level of cortical layers in these patients.
We hypothesise that layer-specific fMRI can characterise epileptic networks by providing an assessment of E/I balance and inter- and intra-columnar connectivity. With simultaneous EEG measurement these alterations will be related to frequency-specific EEG features.
YR1: Training in neuroimaging and associated analysis methods.
YR2-3: Obtain simultaneous measurements of layer specific fMRI and EEG in patients with epilepsy. Measure differences associated with epileptic discharges and their frequency specific components.
YR4: The main objective will be to complete and write up scientific papers and thesis.