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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2006 Jul;113(7):939-49. Epub 2005 Oct 27.

Evidence for a neurophysiologic auditory deficit in children with benign epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, United Kingdom.


Benign focal epilepsy in childhood with centro-temporal spikes (BECTS) is one of the most common forms of epilepsy. Recent studies have questioned the benign nature of BECTS, as they have revealed neuropsychological deficits in many domains including language. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the epileptic discharges during the night have long-term effects on auditory processing, as reflected on electrophysiological measures, during the day, which could underline the language deficits. In order to address these questions we recorded base line electroencephalograms (EEG), sleep EEG and auditory event related potentials in 12 children with BECTS and in age- and gender-matched controls. In the children with BECTS, 5 had unilateral and 3 had bilateral spikes. In the 5 patients with unilateral spikes present during sleep, an asymmetry of the auditory event related component (P85-120) was observed contralateral to the side of epileptiform activity compared to the normal symmetrical vertex distribution that was noted in all controls and in 3 the children with bilateral spikes. In all patients the peak to peak amplitude of this event related potential component was statistically greater compared to the controls. Analysis of subtraction waveforms (deviant - standard) revealed no evidence of a mismatch negativity component in any of the children with BECTS. We propose that the abnormality of P85-120 and the absence of mismatch negativity during wake recordings in this group may arise in response to the long-term effects of spikes occurring during sleep, resulting in disruption of the evolution and maintenance of echoic memory traces. These results may indicate that patients with BECTS have abnormal processing of auditory information at a sensory level ipsilateral to the hemisphere evoking spikes during sleep.

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