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Keywords:

  • Frontal lobe epilepsy;
  • Memory;
  • Functional fMRI;
  • Cognition

Summary

Purpose:  Focal epilepsies are often associated with structural and functional changes that may extend beyond the area of seizure onset. In this study we investigated the functional anatomy of memory in patients with frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE), focusing on the local and remote effects of FLE on the networks supporting memory encoding.

Methods:  We studied 32 patients with drug-resistant FLE and 18 controls using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) memory encoding paradigm.

Key Findings:  During encoding of stimuli, patients with FLE recruited more widely distributed areas than healthy controls, in particular within the frontal lobe contralateral to the seizure onset. Normal memory performance was associated with increased recruitment of frontal areas, and conversely a poor performance was associated with an absence of this increased recruitment and decreased activation in mesial temporal lobe areas.

Significance:  In patients with FLE, recruitment of wider areas, particularly in the contralateral frontal lobe, appears to be an effective compensatory mechanism to maintain memory function. Impaired hippocampal activation is relatively rare and, in turn, associated with poor recognition memory.