Neuropsychological studies of temporal lobe epilepsy have focused heavily on the nature and extent of memory dysfunction and its relationship to the neuropathological status of the hippocampus and related mesial temporal lobe structures. In this study, we examined whole brain and lobar quantitative MRI volumes and comprehensive neuropsychological performance in 58 patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and 62 healthy controls in order to determine (1) the nature and degree of extratemporal structural abnormalities in localization-related temporal lobe epilepsy; (2) the nature and degree of cognitive abnormalities outside of anterograde memory function; and (3) the relationship of volumetric abnormalities to neuropsychological status. Temporal lobe epilepsy patients exhibited significant reduction in the volume of adjusted (age, gender, height) total cerebral tissue (−5.8%), more evident in white (−9.8%) compared to gray matter (−3.0%) tissue volumes. Significant volumetric reductions were evident across frontal, temporal and parietal but not occipital lobe regions. Subarachnoid but not total ventricular CSF was significantly increased in epilepsy patients. Neuropsychological abnormality was generalized in nature, consistent with the generalized nature of the morphometric abnormalities, and reductions in cerebral tissue volumes were directly associated with poorer cognitive performance. In summary, patients with temporal lobe epilepsy exhibited clinically significant structural and functional abnormalities that extended outside the epileptogenic temporal lobe. The degree to which these structural and cognitive abnormalities are due to factors that cause the epilepsy, as opposed to reflecting the consequences of chronic epilepsy (e.g., duration and severity of epilepsy), remain to be determined. (JINS, 2003, 9, 353–362.)
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