Attention problems in epilepsy: possible significance of the epileptogenic focus

Epilepsia. Sep-Oct 1994;35(5):1091-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1994.tb02560.x.


Investigation of the relation between epilepsy and cognition presents serious methodologic problems because several factors may contribute to impair neuropsychological performances in epileptic persons. Benign epilepsy of childhood with rolandic paroxysmal discharges (EPR) may be a very useful model of investigation in relation to opportunity to examine subjects without brain damage, therapy, and negative environmental influences. Thus, neuropsychological dysfunction in patients with EPR may support the hypothesis that epilepsy itself plays a specific role in the genesis of cognitive disturbances. We assessed the impact of the laterality of the epileptogenic focus on cognition of children with EPR. All subjects performed a figure cancellation task, a test used to evaluate mainly attention mechanisms and abilities in processing visuospatial information. Results showed that children with right-sided (or bilateral) focus scored worse, whereas children with left-sided focus performed as well as the control subjects. Our data agree with those of studies suggesting that focal discharges may be related to poor cognitive performance. Evidence of a concordance between neurophysiologic and neuropsychologic findings may have great practical and theoretical implications in management of epileptic patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsies, Partial / diagnosis
  • Epilepsies, Partial / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*