Maarika Liik will apply for doctoral degree with the dissertation,,Cognitive functioning, perceived cognition, subjective complaints and symptoms of depression in patients with epilepsy: neuropsychological assessment and SPET brain imaging study" on the 27th of August at 2 pm in A. Linkberg auditoorium (Puusepa 8, Tartu).
Supervisor: Senior Lecturer Sulev Haldre, MD, PhD (University of Tartu).
Opponent: Professor Reetta Kälviäinen, PhD (University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland)
Cognitive and psychiatric problems are common companions of epilepsy. Risk for having various neuropsychological impairments, having increased rates of subjective cognitive complaints, and developing depression is increased in people with epilepsy. The aim of this study was to describe the cognitive profile and perceived cognition of patients with epilepsy in Estonia, to assess the influence of symptoms of depression on objective and subjective cognitive measures, and to investigate serotonin transporter (SERT) binding in association with presence of symptoms of depression in patients with epilepsy. 62 patients with epilepsy and 53 healthy control subjects performed neuropsychological assessment, filled subjective complaint questionnaire and depression questionnaire during the study. 12 patients with epilepsy were investigated with single photon emission tomography (SPET) using SERT ligand 123I-ADAM. The results indicated that patients with epilepsy performed worse in different neuropsychological tests of verbal functions. The performance was worse in patients with focal epilepsy compared to patients with generalized epilepsy. Subjective cognitive complaints did not correlate with objective cognitive measures but were associated with the presence of symptoms of depression. Patients with higher depression scale score presented more subjective complaints. Symptoms of depression were strongly associated with many cognitive test scores indicating the negative influence of depression on cognitive functions. SERT binding in the midbrain did not show any associations with symptoms of depression in patients with epilepsy. The results of this study emphasize the importance of neuropsychological assessment and especially depression screening and treatment in patients with epilepsy. Increased amount of subjective complaints should not be taken at face value for cognitive dysfunction but should alert physicians to search for depression in people with epilepsy.