New study highlights impact of epilepsy on executive function in children

A little boy looking serious. Ref: www,dreamstime.com

New research from a number of French universities has shed fresh light on the impact that frontal or temporal lobe epilepsy can have on executive function in children.

Executive functions are a number of key cognitive processes that generally help connect past experience with present action, including memory, reasoning, problem-solving, planning and execution.

Since executive functions are vulnerable in cases of brain disruption during childhood, when the brain is not fully mature, it is a particular problem for epilepsy patients. The new study – published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior – aimed to understand the everyday executive functioning of children with epilepsy both at home and in school.

Speaking to the parents and teachers of 53 children, it was found the entire group experienced some form of executive impairment, regardless of their epilepsy type.

Frequency of seizures was not related to executive dysfunction, whereas the number of antiepileptic drugs tended to positively correlate with working memory impairment. Onset of epilepsy at a younger age tended to be related to more executive difficulties.

It was also indicated that duration of epilepsy was strongly associated with executive deficits reported in the context of school, suggesting this is a key issue that needs to be managed in this patient group.

Posted by Anne Brown

Publication abstract: http://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(14)00276-5/abstract