People with epilepsy commonly report having problems with their thinking and memory. Here's a few examples of the problems people may report.

  • Trouble remembering names that they once knew.
  • Forgetting appointments or having trouble remembering when to take their medicines.
  • Can recall things from the distant past, but can't recall events that happened in the past week.
  • Forgetting things more easily as time goes by. Some people say they feel like they've missed part of their life.
  • Difficulty paying attention or concentrating.
  • Feel that their thinking is slowed down.

Any of these problems could be affected by how seizures, medications, or the underlying brain problems affect a person's memory. And memory involves more than just one brain area or brain function. Many functions and skills need to work together to help a person remember. There are different types of memory that may be involved too.

Memory difficulties can have such a tremendous impact on people living with epilepsy that it may hinder their functioning at work, in school, and at home.

This section will explore the relationship between epilepsy, thinking, and memory and how to diagnose and treat these common problems.

Other problems that affect a person's thinking, cognition or behavior are described under Moods and Behavior.

Webinar: Epilepsy & Cognition

Recorded December 17, 2019

Bruce Hermann PhD and Elaine Kiriakopoulos MD, MSc, held for a webinar about cognition and memory in epilepsy, cognitive changes with aging, assessing memory and cognition, and maintaining cognitive health.

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Reviewed By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Monday, February 3, 2014