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How Epilepsy Affects the Brain and Leads to Memory Loss

Dec 27, 2007
Epilepsy is a form of brain disorder that is characterized by seizures, often recurrent. It is a condition that affects only about 1 person in every 200. It has a tendency to appear in families, although the genes that are supposed to cause epilepsy are still undetermined.

On its own, epilepsy can cause memory loss, specifically about the events that occurred during the time period involving the seizure. There is no clear cause to this condition.

Epileptic amnesia
Memory loss is always present in epileptic seizures, although the extent to which amnesia is experienced can vary from one person to another. Some may have violent seizures during an attack and then report absolutely no memory of the events. Others may experience what is called anterograde amnesia : the kind of memory loss where the brain finds it difficult to process new information. This is a temporary form of memory loss, however a person might soon recover after a period of time.

There is also another form of memory loss related to epilepsy wherein a person might still be able to interact with the environment normally during a seizure. This is called ictal amnesia or pure amnesic seizure. Although the person will appear 'normal' during the seizure, even participate in conversations and other activities, they will not remember the events during the episode.

How epilepsy leads to memory loss
Epilepsy as a brain activity occurs on a specific region or site of the brain, particularly the medial temporal lobe. The problem with this condition is that repeated attacks can damage brain tissues in some of the most important areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus. The hippocampus is essential to the processing of information and memory.

Should damage occur, it can cause problems in the storage of information and ultimately, in remembering them. If damage occurs on the left side of the brain, this can lead to the loss of verbal memory. As a result, the person will find it difficult to remember words, whether they are spoken or written. If damage occurs on the right side of the brain, visual memory is affected. The person will find it difficult to remember what he saw and will have problems processing objects and directions. If damage is found on the frontal lobes, this can lead to short-term memory loss. When this happens, the person will find it difficult to keep their attention for long.

Avoiding memory loss in epilepsy
There is no cure for epilepsy, although there are of course several methods used to treat it. These include diet, therapy and medication. The main objective here is to treat the symptoms : that is, the seizures : and prevent them from occurring. Medications such as anticonvulsants may sometimes be prescribed in order to manage and eliminate seizures. The end result here is to ensure that damage to the brain is prevented and thus, avoid memory loss altogether.

People with epilepsy can also take the time to improve their memory with the use of memory aids. These can be extremely beneficial not just as sources of information but also as sources of visual and auditory memory. As a result, the individual still has access to information that they may be in danger of losing should epilepsy cause damage in the brain.
About the Author
Matthew Wadsworth is an international musician and expert on memory improvement. He is committed to teaching people from all walks of life how to improve their memory.
For more information please go to
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