Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
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Memory Integration Processes in Benign Childhood Epilepsy with Centrotemporal Spikes

OBJECTIVE AND BACKGROUND: Benign epilepsy of childhood with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS) is the most frequent focal epilepsy in children; however, the pattern of affected memory processes remains controversial. Previous studies in BECTS imply deficits in complex working memory tasks, but not in simple modality-specific tasks. We studied working memory processes in children with BECTS by comparing performance in memory binding tasks of different complexities. METHODS: We compared 17 children with BECTS (aged 6 to 13 years) to 17 healthy children matched for age, sex, and intelligence quotient. We measured spatial and verbal memory components separately and jointly on three single-binding tasks (binding of what and where; what and when; and where and when) and a combined-binding task (integration of what, where, and when). We also evaluated basic visuospatial memory functions with subtests of the Children's Memory Scale, and intellectual abilities with verbal tasks of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition and the Raven Progressive Matrices. RESULTS: We found no difference between the BECTS and control groups in single-binding tasks; however, the children with BECTS performed significantly worse on the combined task, which included integration of spatial, verbal, and temporal information. We found no deficits in their intellectual abilities or basic visuospatial memory functions. CONCLUSIONS: Children with BECTS may have intact simple maintenance processes of working memory, but difficulty with high-level functions requiring attentional and executive resources. Our findings imply no specific memory dysfunction in BECTS, but suggest difficulties in integrating information within working memory, and possible frontal lobe disturbances.



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