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Seizure. 2000 Apr;9(3):184-8.

Cognitive functions and epileptic activity.

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  • 1Huntlywood, 3 Styal Road, Wilmslow, SK9 4AE, UK.


Epilepsy, and its treatment, can affect the development and use of language in a number of different ways. The seizures may be a symptom of a lesion in areas of the brain essential for language function, and the complications of both the seizures and of the drugs can interfere with learning. However, the purpose of this review is to consider the role of epileptic activity as demonstrated by electrical discharges in the electroencephalogram (EEG), whether these are accompanied by overt seizures or not, on cerebral function especially that of language. The Landau-Kleffner, the continuous spike-waves during sleep, and the benign epilepsy of childhood with Rolandic spikes syndromes are considered; as well as the evidence of epileptic discharges affecting language development. If there are doubts that a patient is suffering from epilepsy the diagnosis may be difficult; and anyone involved in the treatment of language disorders should keep this possibility in mind. Particularly during childhood an EEG, awake and asleep, should be an important part of the assessment of both developmental and acquired dysphasia. The control of overt fits may be relatively easy, but drugs are not so effective in controlling the epileptic activity in the EEG. The treatment of such discharges used to be discouraged, but the evidence is now strongly in favour of employing both medical and surgical treatment. The results in restoring language function are sometimes dramatic.

Copyright 2000 BEA Trading Ltd.

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