Chemosensory event-related potentials in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy

Epilepsia. 1995 Jan;36(1):79-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1995.tb01670.x.


We investigated chemosensory functions in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) to discover whether olfactory and trigeminal stimuli applied either ipsilaterally or contralaterally to the epileptic focus are processed differently. Twenty-two patients were investigated, 12 of whom had epilepsy with a focus located in left temporal lobe (LTL). The remaining 10 patients had a right temporal lobe (RTL) focus. Input from the trigeminal system was examined by use of CO2; input from the olfactory system was evaluated with vanillin and hydrogen sulfide as stimuli. Chemosensory function was assessed by evaluation of chemosensory event-related potentials (CSERP) and the patients' verbal reports in an odor identification test. In both groups of patients, prolonged CSERP latencies were noted after stimulation of the left nostril with CO2 as compared with stimulation of the right nostril. In contrast, a different pattern emerged for olfactory stimuli. After right-sided olfactory stimulation, latencies were prolonged in patients with right-sided epileptical foci. Similarly, when the left nostril was stimulated in patients with a left-sided focus, CSERP latencies were prolonged. Thus, neocortical processing of olfactory, but not trigeminally mediated information evidently is affected by functional lesions of the temporal lobe. After olfactory stimulation in patients with a right-sided focus, the distribution of amplitudes was different from normal. Moreover, analyses showed nonoverlapping 95% confidence intervals (CI) for latency N1 when vanillin was applied to the right nostril. These results indicate that RTL may play a different role in processing of olfactory information as compared with LTL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benzaldehydes / pharmacology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smell / drug effects
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology


  • Benzaldehydes
  • vanillin
  • Hydrogen Sulfide