Developmental stage affects cognition in children with recently-diagnosed symptomatic focal epilepsy

Linda Gonzalez, Upeka Shamithri Embuldeniya, Anthony Simon Harvey, Jacquie A Wrennall, Renee Rebecca Testa, Vicki Anne Anderson, Amanda Gabrielle Wood

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This study explored the impact of developmental stage on cognitive function in children with recently-diagnosed epilepsy. In keeping with a neurodevelopmental framework, skills in a critical developmental period were expected to be more vulnerable than those stable at the time of seizure onset. We studied children with early-onset (EO) symptomatic focal epilepsy (onset: 3-5. years; n=. 18) and compared their performance with that of the group with late-onset (LO) epilepsy (onset: 6-8. years performance of; n=. 8) on a range of cognitive tasks. Performance of both groups was compared with normative standards. Critical and stable classifications were based on developmental research. Nonparametric analyses revealed that skills in a critical developmental period for the group with EO epilepsy fell below normative standards (Phonological Processing: p=. .007, Design Copying: p=. .01, Visuomotor Precision:, p=. .02) and fell below the performance of the group with LO epilepsy (Design Copying: p=. .03, Visuomotor Precision: p=. .03). There were no differences between the group with EO epilepsy and the group with LO epilepsy on measures of receptive vocabulary and memory, which were proposed to be in a stable developmental period across both groups. Auditory span, as measured by Word Order, was reduced for both the group with EO epilepsy (. p=. .02) and the group with LO epilepsy (. p=. .02) relative to normative standards, but the groups did not differ from each other. These results are consistent with a prolonged period of critical development for this skill. These findings support the notion that skills in a critical phase of development are particularly vulnerable following the onset of symptomatic focal epilepsy in childhood
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97 - 104
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy & Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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