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  Neuropsychological Performance in Greek-Cypriot
Adults with Chronic Epilepsy:
A Preliminary Study

F. Constantinidou, S. Papacostas, D. Themistocleous, & M. Nicou
The University of Cyprus & the Cyprus Institute of Neurology & Genetics

The primary objective was to investigate verbal learning, working memory, and executive functioning abilities in Greek-Cypriots with chronic epilepsy using a between group experimental design.
30 Greek-Cypriot adults with chronic epilepsy (ages 18-55, mean = 34.27, SD = 11.33) 25 neurologically normal adults matched on age, gender, and education levels.

NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL TESTS AND QUALITY OF LIFE MEASURES

Neuropsychological Tests
MMSE (for global cognitive screening)
BDI-II (for depression screening)
Auditory Verbal Learning Test
Presentation Modalities Test
Rey Complex Figure
Parts of Wechsler Memory Scale: Digit Span (forward, backward), Spatial Span (forward, backward), Logical Memory I & II
Symbol-Digit Modality Test
Trail Test (A,B)
COWAT
Animal Naming Test

Quality of life assessments
QOLIE-89 questionnaire
WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire

 

RESULTS


Mixed model MANOVA (a = .05) results indicated that the performance of participants with epilepsy was significantly lower than that of normal cohorts on repeated verbal learning tasks (RAVLT).
Pairwise (a = .05) comparisons demonstrated that performance was lower on both verbal and non-verbal working memory measures (digit span forward & backwards, visual span forward & backwards, Rey Complex Figure Test, and paragraph recall immediate & delayed).
In addition, performance was significantly lower (a = .05) on executive functioning and mental fluency tasks (COWAT, Symbol Digits Modalities Test, Trails A & B). Performance on executive tests correlated significantly (a=.05) with memory performance.

CONCLUSIONS

Chronic epilepsy hampers verbal learning and memory performance despite of the focus of the epileptic activity. Furthermore, the reduction in executive functioning which interferes with the use of active memory strategies contributes to the memory impairment observed in the present study.
Future studies need to be conducted to reduplicate the above findings. The long-term effects of chronic epilepsy on the aging brain would be a fruitful line of investigation.