Impaired emotional memory recognition after early temporal lobe epilepsy surgery: the fearful face exception?

Cortex. 2013 May;49(5):1386-93. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2012.06.008. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


Introduction: Recognition memory may be enhanced for emotional stimuli compared to neutral ones. Neuropsychological studies in adults with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) have reported disorders in this emotional memory enhancement but few studies have focused on children and adolescents with TLE. However these young patients are at particular risk for memory impairments.

Methods: We included 25 patients aged 8-18 years with temporal lobe resection (TLR) for refractory TLE and compared them with 50 age-matched healthy controls for emotional memory recognition tasks involving faces and words. Recollection and familiarity memory processes were explored using the R/K/G paradigm and identification of emotional facial expressions was evaluated.

Results: In the control group, recognition was enhanced for emotional faces and words compared to neutral ones. In patients, no memory enhancement effect was found, except for fearful faces. Memory enhancement for fearful faces relied on familiarity-based judgments in patients whereas it was supported by recollection in controls. In left-TLR patients, memory recognition of emotional material was correlated with identification of emotional facial expressions whereas this was not the case for right-TLR patients.

Conclusion: Together, these findings indicate that temporal lobe integrity is crucial for children to develop normal interactions between emotions and memory. In the case of early lesions, fearful expressions might possibly increase memory for faces but through familiarity rather than through recollection as in healthy individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Face / physiopathology*
  • Facial Expression
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery