• Childhood epilepsy;
  • Intelligence;
  • Memory;
  • Attention;
  • Academic skills

Summary:  Purpose: To compare neuropsychological performance of two groups of children with intractable epilepsy: those who are surgical candidates, and those who are not.

Methods: Intelligence, verbal memory, visual memory, academic skills, and sustained attention were measured in children aged 6–18 years. The effects of number of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), seizure frequency, age at seizure onset, and duration of seizure disorder were examined.

Results: Both groups had high rates of impairment. Group differences were found only on the verbal memory task. Children who experienced seizures in clusters had higher IQ, reading comprehension, and arithmetic scores. Age at seizure onset and proportion of life with seizures were related to IQ. Performance did not vary with AED monotherapy versus polytherapy.

Conclusions: Few differences exist in cognitive performance between children with intractable seizures who are and those who are not surgical candidates. These findings suggest that children who are not surgical candidates can serve as good controls in studies on cognitive outcome of surgery.