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Seizure. 2002 Jun;11(4):224-30.

The neuropsychological and emotional consequences of living with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy: implications for clinical management.

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The Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Liverpool, England.



To investigate and document the neuropsychological and emotional effects of epilepsy in people with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).


273 patients with a diagnosis of TLE underwent a complete neuropsychological and psychological examination as a routine part of their investigation for epilepsy surgery. Neuropsychological assessment included measures of intellect, memory, language functioning, higher executive functioning, emotional well-being and the psychosocial impact of epilepsy and its treatment.


The sample comprised 135 females and 138 males with a clearly lateralised epileptogenic focus. Patients were mildly anxious but not depressed, although many reported that epilepsy and its treatment had a marked effect on their daily lives. Current reading ability was in the average range; the mean obtained full scale IQ was 88 (low average range). Verbal memory functioning was within the borderline impaired range with visual memory functioning within the average range. Mean language performance was between the 5-10th percentile. Higher executive functioning results were in the normal range. Multiple univariate analyses were performed according to onset laterality. There were no significant differences between the groups on measures of psychological or emotional functioning. Participants with left TLE scored significantly lower than those in the right temporal group on measures of verbal intelligence, general intelligence, attention span and expressive language functioning.


Patients with intractable epilepsy suffer significant neuropsychological difficulties in terms of their intellect, memory and language. Higher executive functioning appears unaffected. In addition, there is also evidence of emotional distress. These all impact upon their day-to-day functioning, which can be improved by the application of various psychological therapies and interventions.

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