Patients' Perceptions of Memory Functioning Before and After Surgical Intervention to Treat Medically Refractory Epilepsy


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. T. T. Lineweaver at Butler University, Department of Psychology, 4600 Sunset Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46208, U.S.A. E-mail:


Summary: Purpose: One risk associated with epilepsy surgery is memory loss, but perhaps more important is how patients perceive changes in their memories. This longitudinal study evaluated changes in memory self-reports and investigated how self-reports relate to changes on objective memory measures in temporal or extratemporal epilepsy patients who underwent surgery.

Methods: Objective memory (Wechsler Memory Scale–Revised) and subjective memory self-reports (Memory Assessment Clinics Self-Rating Scale) were individually assessed for 136 patients ∼6 months before and 6 months after surgery. A measure of depressive affect (Beck Depression Inventory–2nd Edition) was used to control variance attributable to emotional distress.

Results: Despite a lack of significant correlational relationships between objective and subjective memory for the entire sample, significant correlations between objective memory scores and self-reports did emerge for a subset of patients who evidenced memory decline. Differences also were found in the subjective memory ratings of temporal lobe versus extratemporal patients. Temporal lobe patients rated their memories more negatively than did extratemporal patients and were more likely to report significant improvements in their memory after surgery.

Conclusions: In general, patients were not accurate when rating their memories compared to other adults. However, patients with significant declines in their memories were sensitive to actual changes in their memories over time relative to their own personal baselines.