Effects of Illness Duration on Memory Processing of Patients with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

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To examine the effects of illness duration on the neural processing of memory in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) by using functional MRI.


Twenty-three TLE patients (16 left, seven right) performed a complex visual scene-encoding task during functional MRI. Region-of-interest (ROI) analyses were used to quantity functional activation in the mesial temporal and frontal lobes. The patients' verbal and visual memory performances were evaluated by standardized neuropsychological tests. Analyses included group comparison and correlations of duration of epilepsy with functional activation and memory performance.


Compared with normal controls, TLE patients demonstrated reduced activation bilaterally in the mesial temporal lobe (p = 0.003), and the reduction was more pronounced on the ipsilateral side of the seizure focus. Moreover, a longer duration of illness was associated with fewer voxels activated in both the left (p = 0.038) and right (p = 0.017) mesial temporal lobe. Furthermore, the duration of illness was found to be significantly and negatively correlated with both verbal (p = 0.020) and visual (p = 0.000) memory functioning.


TLE seems to affect the memory processes in the mesial temporal lobes progressively (i.e., the longer the duration of illness, the lower the brain activation). In turn, the reduction of brain activation negatively affects memory functioning. Finally, the reduction is not limited to the side of seizure but also is observed in the contralateral hemisphere.

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