Service de Neurologie, Hopital Bretonneau, 37044 Tours Cedex, France.
Benign childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS) is a frequent, benign childhood epilepsy with a good prognosis. However, neuropsychological deficits have been reported during its active phase. In this study, we evaluate the long-term neuropsychological consequences of this reputedly benign epilepsy, particularly the relation between paroxysmal abnormalities and cerebral language lateralization.
The neuropsychological outcomes concerning both overall cognitive and lateral hemispheric functions were studied in twenty-three adolescents and young adults in total recovery from BECTS, in thirty-three controls without any significant past neurological history and in ten adolescents and young adults with complete resolution of generalized idiopathic epilepsy (childhood absence epilepsy or CAE). Language lateralization was evaluated using classical neuropsychological procedures (dichotic listening tasks, dual-task procedure).
No difference was seen in the three populations with respect to overall cognitive function: memory, language and the executive functions. Although the Performance IQ was lower in patients in remission from CAE, the results were within normal limits. However, qualitative analysis of the dual-task procedure suggested a different organizational pattern for cerebral language in adolescents and young adults in remission from BECTS as compared to controls and patients in remission from CAE.
The different organization in cerebral pattern in BECTS patients appeared to be related to the initial epileptic focus as determined by the EEG and/or the sleep-recording. We discuss the relationship between the presence of paroxysmal anomalies in childhood and subtle functional lateralized hemispheric abnormalities in adulthood.