Earlier this month, lab member Marco Mcsweeney presented his research on Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder (NEAD) at the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) conference in Dublin, Ireland. The ILAE is the premier professional association of doctors and other health professionals from all over the globe, working in the field of epilepsy. During the conference, Marco was asked to present his most recent research investigating differences in cortical thickness between patients with NEAD and healthy control subjects.
NEAD is a functional neurological disorder in which patients suffer from seizures that superficially resemble an epileptic attack, however, they are not caused by epileptiform discharges in the brain. Little is currently known about the disorder, and only two MRI studies had previously examined structural differences between NEAD patients and controls, with conflicting results. In their study, Marco and his colleagues were particularly interested in focusing on differences in cortical thickness between patients with NEAD and healthy controls. The results of the scans showed significant bilateral structural changes in brain regions associated with regulatory mechanisms, emotion processing, motor function, and sensory control in patients with NEAD. However, the direction of these changes was different to results found in previous studies. Even though there are differences between this study and previous research in the direction of changes, both studies show that there are underlying structural brain changes in patients with NEAD. Consequently, more work is needed to determine when and why these structural changes occur in order to further our understanding of NEAD.