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Seizure. 1998 Feb;7(1):15-24.

Amnesia in temporal lobectomy patients: historical perspective and review.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, Nuffield III, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.


Profound memory loss is a rare but serious complication of temporal-lobe surgery for the relief of medically intractable epilepsy. This paper examines the characteristics of the patients who have been reported to become amnesic following temporal-lobe surgery over the last four decades. The critical role of the hippocampi in memory function are implicated in autopsy studies and MRI investigations, but these cases suggest that a range of memory impairments result from bilateral hippocampal damage, rather than a pure amnesic syndrome in every case. There is some evidence that bilateral structural hippocampal abnormalities may not necessarily be associated with significant memory problems, if these abnormalities have a developmental basis. However, whilst not necessarily profound, any post-operative deterioration in memory function remains a significant consideration in the presurgical evaluation of temporal-lobe epilepsy patients.

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