Deficits in executive functions (EF) are a common comorbidity among adolescents with epilepsy. EF deficits were previously correlated with altered connectivity of the fronto-parietal and cingulo-opercular neural networks. The current study investigated white matter integrity in adolescents with epilepsy (n = 29) relative to healthy controls (n = 19). Participants completed questionnaires, neuropsychological testing, and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that included diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) sequences. On BRIEF parent-report questionnaires, adolescents with epilepsy demonstrated lower working memory and planning abilities than healthy controls. Among adolescents with epilepsy, DTI measurements revealed lower fractional anisotropy (FA) within the right superior longitudinal fasciculus, forceps minor, and the superior frontal segment of the corpus callosum, and higher FA in the left uncinate fasciculus, compared to healthy controls. Better working memory ability in the epilepsy group was associated with higher FA in the superior frontal segment of the corpus callosum. Only in healthy controls, working memory and planning were positively associated with FA values in the left UF, forceps minor and the superior frontal segment of the corpus callosum. The current study complements previous functional studies on the same cohort and suggests that EF impairments among adolescents with epilepsy may be related to the altered anatomical organization of white matter tracts. Combining structural and functional data could potentially enrich the neuropsychological assessment of executive functioning in adolescents with epilepsy.
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© 2023 European Paediatric Neurology Society
- Diffusion tensor imaging
- Executive dysfunction
- Working memory