Ten things every neurologist needs to know about neuropsychological assessments and interventions in people with epilepsy

Eur J Neurol. 2020 Feb;27(2):215-220. doi: 10.1111/ene.14104. Epub 2019 Nov 11.


This paper describes 10 core features of a neuropsychological assessment with the aim of helping neurologists understand the unique contribution the evaluation can make within the wider context of diagnostic methods in epilepsy. The possibilities, limitations and cautions associated with the investigation are discussed under the following headings. (1) A neuropsychological assessment is a collaborative investigation. (2) Assessment prior to treatment allows for the accurate assessment of treatment effects. (3) The nature of an underlying lesion and its neurodevelopmental context play an important role in shaping the associated neuropsychological deficit. (4) Cognitive and behavioural impairments result from the essential comorbidities of epilepsy which can be considered as much a disorder of cognition and behaviour as of seizures. (5) Patients' subjective complaints can help us understand objective cognitive impairments and their underlying neuroanatomy, resulting in improved patient care. At other times, patient complaints reflect other factors and require careful interpretation. (6) The results from a neuropsychological assessment can be used to maximize the educational and occupational potentials of people with epilepsy. (7) Not all patients are able to engage with a neuropsychological assessment. (8) There are limitations in assessments conducted in a second language with tests that have been standardized on different populations from that of the patient. (9) Adequate intervals between assessments maximize sensitivity to meaningful change. (10) Patients should be fully informed about the purpose of the assessment and have realistic expectations of the outcome prior to referral.

Keywords: assessment; cognition; epilepsy; memory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neurologists*
  • Neuropsychological Tests*