Verbal learning and forgetting in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy

A. R. Giovagnoli, M. Casazza, G. Broggi, G. Avanzin

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Studies comparing non-surgical patients with left or right temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) have shown irregular differences in verbal learning and memory. We assessed the performance of unoperated patients with epileptogenic temporal lobe lesions or cryptogenic TLE using a selective reminding procedure for the learning of a word list, and five delayed trials for the recall of learned words. On the selective reminding procedure, patients with left TLE were found to be more impaired than those with right TLE and controls, in agreement with the role of the left temporal lobe in verbal learning. The patients with right TLE were more impaired than the controls, possibly due to the semantic organization of the word list. The rate of forgetting learned words was similar in the patient and control groups, suggesting that patients with left TLE can normally retain and/or retrieve stored items. These data support the hypothesis that distinct functional systems subserve learning and memory. Comparisons of the patient subgroups with epileptogenic lesions (hippocampal sclerosis or low-grade glioma) and those with cryptogenic TLE did not reveal any significant difference in learning or in memory, suggesting that epileptiform activity could affect verbal performance as a detectable temporal lesion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-353
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Forgetting
  • Hippocampal lesions
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy
  • Verbal learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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