Our Research

Ongoing Investigations

Hippocampal Functioning in Pediatric Epilepsy

This study seeks to understand the effect of childhood epilepsy on the functional anatomy of memory systems and establish an fMRI protocol for the preoperative evaluation of memory in children with focal epilepsy. This project will use fMRI to investigate the effect of seizure focus on laterality of hippocampal activation while collecting neuropsychological and DTI data as well.

Funding: K-23 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) National Institutes of Health (NIH) Award

PI: Leigh Sepeta, Ph.D.

A Multi-site Collaborative for Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Outcomes Beyond Seizure Freedom

Supported by an infrastructure grant awarded to Dr. Madison Berl from the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation, this project extends the Pediatric Epilepsy Consortium (PERC) Database created by Dr. Scott Perry at Cook Children's Hospital by incorporating neuropsychological outcome data. This collaborative network is comprised of 20+ sites that collects medical and neuropsychological data from children being considered for epilepsy surgery. We are refining and optimizing the PERC database to integrate neuropsychological data and will conduct pilot projects to test the feasibility of this effort. Our overall aim is to determine if there are factors that improve outcomes following surgery which may include timing and approach.

Funding: Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation (PERF)

PI: Madison Berl, Ph.D.

Focal Cortical Dysplasia and Epilepsy Project

The aim of the project is to use computational methods to identify FCD, to identify features of FCD that are associated with pharmacoresistant epilepsy, including location within established brain networks, connectivity perturbations within these networks, and surgical outcomes. Our team is a member of the broader Multi-centre Epilepsy Lesion Detection (MELD) project that has gathered structural MRI in over 500 patients with FCD and epilepsy from over 15 international centers.

Funding: Hess Foundation and MELD UCL

PI: Nathan Cohen, M.D., Xiaozhen You, Ph.D., and William Davis Gaillard, M.D.

Seizure-Focus Detection using fMRI

This study aims to identify the seizure onset zone through novel, data-driven computational fc-fMRI methods in children who have undergone epilepsy surgery based on the overall hypothesis that the seizure focus will exhibit aberrant regional connectivity that is lateralized and persistent across cognitive states.

Previous funding: Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children's National (CTSI-CN) Discovery Pilot Award

Current funding: Hess Foundation and KL2

PI: William Davis Gaillard, M.D., Xiaozhen You, Ph.D. and Taha Gholipour, M.D.

Screening for Coexisting Conditions in Epilepsy Clinic

This project seeks to develop a formal screening process to identify youth with epilepsy at risk for psychosocial and cognitive coexisting conditions. We hope to incorporate this universal screening process into routine care provided in the epilepsy clinic.

Funding: Hess Foundation

PI: Madison Berl, Ph.D. and Eleni Rizakos, Psy.D.

Long-term Data Collection

Surgical Evaluation and Monitoring of Children with Epilepsy

This project gathers information about children undergoing evaluation for epilepsy surgery as part of their clinical care. The aim of this study is to identify characteristics of the patient population responding favorably or unfavorably to surgical intervention for epilepsy.

Neuropsychological Evaluation in Congenital, Developmental, and Acquired Pediatric Disorders

The aim of this research is to collect information on children who complete a clinical evaluation in the Neuropsychology Division at Children's National Hospital to elucidate the neuropsychological profiles of children with various developmental disorders. This will further explore the neurocognitive underpinnings of these disorders and conditions for the purpose of distinguishing profiles of strengths and weaknesses and for intervention planning.

Past Investigations

*Data analysis ongoing*

Plasticity of Language in Epilepsy Research (POLER)

2004-2008. This project demonstrated that localization-related epilepsy causes reorganization of language function in children during periods critical for language development and used functional imaging methods to identify brain regions that can sustain reorganized language.

Working Memory in Children with Epilepsy As Assessed by Functional Imaging and Neuropsychological Studies

2011-Ongoing. The aim of this study is to characterize the functional neural correlates of working memory in left-hemisphere focus epilepsy as well as the relationship between language and working memory in children with left-hemisphere focus epilepsy and healthy volunteers. Knowledge of the functional organization of cognition has important treatment implications for epilepsy patients particularly in understanding how the developing brain reorganizes function.