Purpose: The rapid forgetting of information over long (but not short) delays (accelerated long-term forgetting [ALF]) has been associated with temporal lobe epilepsy but not idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE). Long-term memory formation (consolidation) is thought to demand an interaction between medial temporal and neocortical networks, which could be disrupted by epilepsy/seizures themselves. The present study investigates whether ALF is present in children with IGE and whether it relates to epilepsy severity.
Methods: Sixty-one children (20 with IGE and 41 healthy controls [HC]) of comparable age, sex, and parental socioeconomic status completed neuropsychological tests, including a measure of verbal learning and recall after, short (30-min) and long (7-day) delays, and recognition. Epilepsy severity was rated by treating neurologists.
Key Findings: A two-way repeated measures analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) found a significant Group x Delay interaction; the children with IGE recalled (and recognized) significantly fewer words after a long, but not short (2- and 30-min) delay relative to the HC children. Moreover, greater epilepsy severity was associated with poorer recognition.
Significance: This study demonstrates, to our knowledge for the first time, that children with IGE present with ALF, which is related to epilepsy severity. These findings support the notion that epilepsy/seizures themselves may disrupt long-term memory consolidation, which interferes with day-to-day functioning of children with IGE.