Accelerated long-term forgetting in children with idiopathic generalized epilepsy

Authors

  • Michael B. Gascoigne,

    1. School of Psychology, and ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
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  • Belinda Barton,

    1. CHERI, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Richard Webster,

    1. T.Y. Nelson Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Deepak Gill,

    1. T.Y. Nelson Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Jayne Antony,

    1. T.Y. Nelson Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Suncica Sunny Lah

    1. School of Psychology, and ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
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Address correspondence to Suncica S. Lah, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. E-mail: suncica.lah@sydney.edu.au

Summary

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.

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