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Epilepsy Behav. 2012 Dec;25(4):622-30. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2012.06.038. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

Accelerated long-term forgetting in temporal lobe epilepsy: verbal, nonverbal and autobiographical memory.

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University of Glasgow, UK.


Patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) often present with memory complaints despite performing within normal limits on standard memory tests. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is accelerated long-term forgetting (ALF). The present study investigated material-specific ALF in patients with unilateral TLE and also examined whether ALF could be demonstrated on a novel, standardized anterograde autobiographical memory (ABM) task. Fourteen patients with TLE and 17 controls were administered verbal, nonverbal and ABM event memory tasks. The participants were tested for immediate recall, recall and recognition at 30-minute delay, and recall and recognition after four weeks. The extent of ALF was calculated based on the percentage decay of memory from the 30-minute delay trial to the four-week delay trial. Patients with left TLE showed significantly greater ALF for verbal material and a trend towards greater forgetting of ABM. Patients with right TLE showed a non-significant trend towards greater ALF for nonverbal material. Patients with unilateral hippocampal abnormalities showed greater ALF compared to patients without hippocampal abnormalities. Patients with seizures that generalize had more global memory deficits and greater ALF. We conclude that patients with unilateral TLE show material-specific ALF, which appears to be more pronounced with an abnormal hippocampus or seizures that secondarily generalize.

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