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Epilepsia. 1997;38 Suppl 1:S52-5.

Effect of seizures and epileptiform discharges on cognitive function.

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Department of Behavioral Science and Psychological Services, Epilepsiecentrum Kempenhaeghe, Heeze, The Netherlands.


Several relationships have been obtained between cognitive impairment and epilepsy-related or treatment-related factors. One of these factors is treatment-related: the central cognitive side effects of the antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). The second and third factors are disease-related factors, i.e., the effect of the seizures and underlying epileptiform discharges in the brain and the localization of the epileptogenic focus in specific areas of the brain. Although most cognitive problems have a multifactorial origin and often several factors combined are responsible for the "make-up" of a cognitive problem, we have attempted to isolate one factor: the effect of seizures and epileptiform EEG discharges on cognitive function. Several studies show the impact of ictal activity, but special attention is required for the postictal and interictal effects of epilepsy on cognitive functions. This may explain substantial cognitive impairments in children with subclinical epileptiform discharges or with infrequent subtle seizures.

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