Cognitive impairment in temporal lobe epilepsy: contributions of lesion, localization and lateralization

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Cognitive impairment is an important comorbidity of refractory temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). We aimed to explore the impact of (i) specific lesions, such as dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor (DNET), dysplasia, or hippocampal sclerosis, (ii) focus localization (medial versus lateral) and (iii) focus lateralization (right versus left) on the neuropsychological profile of refractory TLE adult patients.


We examined the neuropsychological characteristics of 312 adults with refractory TLE: 100 patients without hippocampal sclerosis (HS) and 212 with HS. Scores on tests of intelligence (Global IQ, Verbal IQ and Performance IQ), working memory, episodic memory (verbal and visual learning and forgetting), executive functions and language abilities were analyzed.


Three main factors influenced the neuropsychological profile of refractory TLE patients: (i) the lesion, patients with HS obtaining poorer cognitive performances than patients without HS and specifically DNET patients performing better than patients with HS, (ii) the focus side, that seems only relevant for verbal memory abilities which are affected in left but not right TLE patients and (iii) the localization of seizure focus, patients with medial TLE exhibiting lower memory performances than patients with lateral TLE.


Lesion, localization and lateralization are major contributors of the cognitive impairment depicted in TLE. Hippocampal sclerosis appears as the main contributor.

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