Memory function in childhood epilepsy syndromes

J Paediatr Child Health. 2004 Jan-Feb;40(1-2):20-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2004.00284.x.


Objective: Children with epilepsy are at risk of specific cognitive deficits. We aimed to compare and characterize the memory function of children with childhood absence epilepsy (CAE), frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) and temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).

Methods: Epilepsy syndrome was identified by clinical data, seizure semiology, interictal and ictal electroencephalogram (EEG). Seventy children aged 6-18 years with CAE, FLE or TLE had neuropsychological assessment including memory function. After adjusting for epilepsy variables, neuropsychological results of the syndrome groups and normative data were compared.

Results: Children from all three syndrome groups were at risk of memory difficulties. The duration of epilepsy correlated negatively with memory function. Children with TLE had the worst memory function, significantly lower in verbal memory tasks than children with CAE (P = 0.02) and children with FLE (P = 0.01). The performance of children with TLE was significantly below the normed mean across all verbal and most visual tasks. Compared to the normed means, children with FLE had results that were statistically lower in some verbal and visual tasks, and children with CAE were lower in two visual tasks only.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates memory dysfunction in three common childhood epilepsy syndromes. Children with TLE had the greatest impairment, children with FLE had memory difficulties not previously reported, and children with CAE had subtle memory deficits. Qualitative differences were also evident. Longer duration of intractable epilepsy was associated with reduced memory ability. Memory function and its potential impact on academic achievement are vital considerations when managing children with epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Demography
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index