Cognitive–linguistic functions in adults with epilepsy: Preliminary electrophysiological and behavioral findings

Manaswita Dutta, Laura L. Murray, Wendy Miller, Isaiah Innis, Sharlene Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


Purpose: Cognition and language difficulties are frequently reported in both children and adults with epilepsy. The majority of the existing research has focused on pediatric epilepsy, documenting impairments in learning, academics, and social– emotional functioning. In comparison, language deficits in younger and older adults with epilepsy have received less empirical attention. Given recently identified limitations in the extant literature regarding assessing epilepsy-related language problems in adults (Dutta et al., 2018), the current exploratory study described in this research note investigated the cognitive–linguistic abilities of adults with focal or generalized types of epilepsy. Method: Twelve participants with epilepsy and 11 age-and education-matched healthy controls completed a cognitive– linguistic test battery. Event-related potential (ERP) procedures were also employed to assess the integrity of neural activity supporting psycholinguistic processing in both groups using a lexical decision task. Results: No significant performance differences between epilepsy and healthy control groups were noted on basic language tasks; however, group differences were evident on the more complex language measures, including spoken discourse. Even though both groups performed the lexical decision task similarly in terms of accuracy, individuals with epilepsy demonstrated longer reaction times and some atypical ERP characteristics compared to controls. Conclusion: The cognitive–linguistic assessment and ERP findings suggested that, compared to neurotypical adults, individuals with epilepsy demonstrate slower processing times and greater difficulty with high-level language and spoken discourse production, despite performing within typical limits on basic language tests. Preliminary results from this research are significant in providing new knowledge about language functioning in adults with epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2403-2417
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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