Chronic antiepileptic drug use and functional network efficiency: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

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To increase our insight in the neuronal mechanisms underlying cognitive side-effects of antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment.


The relation between functional magnetic resonance-acquired brain network measures, AED use, and cognitive function was investigated. Three groups of patients with epilepsy with a different risk profile for developing cognitive side effects were included: A "low risk" category (lamotrigine or levetiracetam, n = 16), an "intermediate risk" category (carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, or valproate, n = 34) and a "high risk" category (topiramate, n = 5). Brain connectivity was assessed using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging and graph theoretical network analysis. The Computerized Visual Searching Task was used to measure central information processing speed, a common cognitive side effect of AED treatment.


Central information processing speed was lower in patients taking AEDs from the intermediate and high risk categories, compared with patients from the low risk category. The effect of risk category on global efficiency was significant (P < 0.05, ANCOVA), with a significantly higher global efficiency for patient from the low category compared with the high risk category (P < 0.05, post-hoc test). Risk category had no significant effect on the clustering coefficient (ANCOVA, P > 0.2). Also no significant associations between information processing speed and global efficiency or the clustering coefficient (linear regression analysis, P > 0.15) were observed.


Only the four patients taking topiramate show aberrant network measures, suggesting that alterations in functional brain network organization may be only subtle and measureable in patients with more severe cognitive side effects.

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