We investigated sleep-related declarative memory consolidation in four children with focal idiopathic epilepsy. In a population of healthy control children, recall of learned pairs of words was increased after a night of sleep, but not after a daytime wakefulness period. In children with epilepsy (1 case of benign epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes, 1 case of benign childhood epilepsy with occipital paroxysms, and 2 cases of epileptic encephalopathy (EE) with continuous spike and waves during slow-wave sleep, CSWS), recall performance significantly decreased overnight, suggesting impairment in sleep-related declarative memory consolidation. Hydrocortisone treatment in one patient with EE with CSWS resulted in normalization of the sleep EEG together with normalization of overnight memory performance, which was not the case in the other EE/CSWS patient whose sleep EEG was only partially improved. These preliminary results suggest that interictal epileptiform discharges in idiopathic focal epilepsies may disrupt the brain processes underlying sleep-related memory consolidation.
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