Unilateral hemispheric memory and hippocampal neuronal density in temporal lobe epilepsy

Donald M. O’Rourke, Andrew J. Saykin, James J. Gilhool, Robert Harley, Michael J. O’Connor, Michael R. Sperling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


WE EXAMINED THE relationship of preoperative unilateral memory function and quantitative hippocampal histology in patients undergoing anterior temporal lobectomy for the treatment of complex partial seizures. Recognition memory (objects, words, figures) was assessed preoperatively for each hemisphere by the intracarotid amobarbital procedure in 23 patients (mean age at the time of operation, 30.2 yr; standard deviation, 9.2; mean age at the time of seizure onset, 12.3 yr; standard deviation, 8.6) without tumor. Memory scores were the total number of items recognized, adjusted for guessing. Histological examination of the anterior 20 to 30 mm of hippocampal tissue was accomplished in all patients. The degree of unilateral memory impairment ipsilateral to the seizure focus was significantly correlated with decreased neuronal density in the hilar (r = 0.66, P < 0.001) and dentate granule (r = 0.61, P < 0.002) regions, but not in the CA1 (r = 0.10, P = not significant) or CA2-3 (r = 0.35, P = not significant) regions. Memory performance with the contralateral hemisphere was not significantly correlated with ipsilateral hippocampal densities. These data support the role of the hippocampus in human memory and show further evidence of hippocampal subfield specificity in the relationship between memory performance and neuronal cell loss. Further studies of the dentate granule and hilar regions in relation to human memory are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-581
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Hippocampus
  • Intracarotid amobarbital procedure
  • Memory
  • Neuronal cell loss
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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