Despite the benign prognoses of idiopathic partial epilepsies, particularly regarding the response of seizures to treatment, some evidence now exists that patients with such disorders may have subtle neuropsychological deficits. This study was designed to investigate several modalities of neuropsychological functioning in a group of 21 patients, ranging from 6 to 14 years of age, with idiopathic occipital lobe epilepsy (IOLE). The case patients were compared with 21 healthy controls matched for age, sex, and socioeconomic status.
A battery of age-appropriate neuropsychological tests was administered individually to all the participants. Tests were chosen on the basis of age-appropriate norms, their ability to represent a wide variety of functional domains, and their appropriateness in a cross-cultural setting. The tests were selected to measure functioning in six domains: intellectual functioning, attention, memory, academic achievement, visual-motor functioning, and executive functioning; some were further subdivided by their verbal-versus-visual modality of functioning.
The results revealed no significant difference in basic neurophysiological functions between the patient and control groups, although the case patients' performance scores were lower in attention (p < 0.01) and memory (p < 0.01), as well as in intellectual functioning (p <.05).
The possibility of subtle cognitive deficits in IOLE patients should always be considered, though further studies are necessary to elaborate their precise and long-term effects.