Cognition in epilepsy: current clinical issues of interest

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Purpose of review

This review provides an update and summary of recent neuropsychological findings in epilepsy focusing on three major clinical topics among the many developments in the field. We will critically outline the current state with regard to cognition in new-onset epilepsies, social cognition in epilepsy, and the long-term outcome of epilepsy surgery and the cognitive outcomes of superselective surgical procedures.

Recent findings

Current studies indicate that neuropsychological impairments are prevalent already at the onset of epilepsy and even before, social cognition (i.e., emotion recognition and theory of mind) is impaired in different epilepsy populations, the long-term outcome of epilepsy surgery is mostly characterized by a stable or even improved cognitive status, and superselective epilepsy surgeries are associated with a promising neuropsychological outcome.


The high prevalence of cognitive deficits around epilepsy onset challenges the assumption that epilepsy is the major cause of cognitive problems and calls for early neuropsychological diagnostics. Social cognition seems to be a relevant domain that is not yet routinely considered in epilepsy. The cognitive long-term outcome of epilepsy surgery is mostly positive. Stereotactic thermocoagulation and gamma knife surgery appear to be cognitively safe procedures.

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