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Benign partial epilepsy of childhood: a longitudinal neuropsychological and EEG study of cognitive function

  • Thierry Deonna (a1), Pascal Zesiger (a1), Veronique Davidoff (a1), Malin Maeder (a1), Claire Mayor (a1) and Elaine Roulet (a1)...


The study combined prospective neuropsychological and EEG results of 22 children presenting with typical benign partial epilepsy with rolandic spikes (19 participants) and occipital spikes (three participants). The aims were to assess the types of cognitive problems which may be encountered in this population, to evaluate the course of cognitive and learning capacities during the active phase of epilepsy, and to see if there was a correlation with paroxysmal activity on the EEG. Average age at entry in the study was 8.4 years and each child was seen 2 to 4 times over a period of 1 to 3 years. EEGs showed persistent spike foci in most cases that worsened in three cases, but there were no continuous spike–waves during sleep. No child had persistent stagnation, marked fluctuations, or a regression in cognitive abilities. Of 22 children, 21 had average IQ (>80). Eight children had school difficulties requiring special adjustment. No single cognitive profile was identified. Four children had delayed language development and eight children had transient weak scores in one isolated domain (verbal, visuospatial, memory) which improved or normalized during the course of the study with concomitant EEG improvement or normalization. In two of the three children with aggravation of the paroxysmal EEG activity, clinical changes were documented. A proportion of children with typical benign partial epilepsy with rolandic spikes showed mild, varied, and transient cognitive difficulties during the course of their epilepsy and in most cases this probably had a direct relation with the paroxysmal EEG activity.


Corresponding author

Neuropaediatric Unit, Children's University Hospital and Clinical Neurophysiology Unit, Lausanne, Switzerland.


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