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5 - Epilepsy and learning disorders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2010

Michael Trimble
Affiliation:
Institute of Neurology, London
Bettina Schmitz
Affiliation:
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
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Summary

Introduction

In the practice of epilepsy, the association between epilepsy and learning disorder is very important, even if sometimes underestimated. A correct and early diagnosis of a learning disorder in a person with epileptic seizures will often determine future development and prognosis.

Definitions

Cognitive function defines the capacity of the human brain to process all information coming from the outside and internal world of the individual, and program ongoing behaviour (Aldenkamp and Bronswijk, 1999). This capacity involves the ability to remain in contact with the outside world (through the function of vigilance), to select and focus information (through the function of attention), and to memorize data (through the function of memory). In this way, cognitive function gives humans the opportunity of becoming aware of themselves and to solve problems – something that we also call intelligence. The latter is the generic capacity of using all of the elements of thinking necessary to recognize, plan and solve new problems in a directed and correct manner.

More than one cortical area of the human brain is involved in cognitive function and related processes, and impaired cognitive function has been observed in the presence of a lesion or stable dysfunction in the temporal, frontal or parietal lobes of the dominant and nondominant hemispheres.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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