Recent neuroimaging and behavioral studies have revealed that children with new onset epilepsy already exhibit brain structural abnormalities and cognitive impairment. How the organization of large-scale brain structural networks is altered near the time of seizure onset and whether network changes are related to cognitive performances remain unclear. Recent studies also suggest that regional brain volume covariance reflects synchronized brain developmental changes. Here, we test the hypothesis that epilepsy during early-life is associated with abnormalities in brain network organization and cognition. We used graph theory to study structural brain networks based on regional volume covariance in 39 children with new-onset seizures and 28 healthy controls. Children with new-onset epilepsy showed a suboptimal topological structural organization with enhanced network segregation and reduced global integration compared with controls. At the regional level, structural reorganization was evident with redistributed nodes from the posterior to more anterior head regions. The epileptic brain network was more vulnerable to targeted but not random attacks. Finally, a subgroup of children with epilepsy, namely those with lower IQ and poorer executive function, had a reduced balance between network segregation and integration. Taken together, the findings suggest that the neurodevelopmental impact of new onset childhood epilepsies alters large-scale brain networks, resulting in greater vulnerability to network failure and cognitive impairment.
- Graph theory
- Structural network
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology