Language function in childhood idiopathic epilepsy syndromes

D. C. Jackson, J. E. Jones, D. A. Hsu, C. E. Stafstrom, J. J. Lin, D. Almane, M. A. Koehn, M. Seidenberg, B. P. Hermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine the impact of diverse syndromes of focal and generalized epilepsy on language function in children with new and recent onset epilepsy. Of special interest was the degree of shared language abnormality across epilepsy syndromes and the unique effects associated with specific epilepsy syndromes. Methods: Participants were 136 youth with new or recent-onset (diagnosis within past 12 months)epilepsy and 107 healthy first-degree cousin controls. The participants with epilepsy included 20 with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE; M age = 12.99 years, SD = 3.11), 41 with Benign Epilepsy with Centrotemporal Spikes (BECTS; M age = 10.32, SD = 1.67), 42 with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME; M age = 14.85, SD = 2.75)and 33 with absence epilepsy (M age = 10.55, SD = 2.76). All children were administered a comprehensive test battery which included multiple measures of language and language-dependent abilities (i.e., verbal intelligence, vocabulary, verbal reasoning, object naming, reception word recognition, word reading, spelling, lexical and semantic fluency, verbal list learning and delayed verbal memory). Test scores were adjusted for age and gender and analyzed via MANCOVA. Results: Language abnormalities were found in all epilepsy patient groups. The most broadly affected children were those with TLE and absence epilepsy, whose performance differed significantly from controls on 8 of 11 and 9 of 11 tests respectively. Although children with JME and BECTS were less affected, significant differences from controls were found on 4 of 11 tests each. While each group had a unique profile of language deficits, commonalities were apparent across both idiopathic generalized and localization-related diagnostic categories. Discussion: The localization related and generalized idiopathic childhood epilepsies examined here were associated with impact on diverse language abilities early in the course of the disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-9
Number of pages6
JournalBrain and Language
StatePublished - Jun 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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