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Sleep and memory in children with focal epilepsy

A high proportion of children with epilepsy experience problems with learning and memory, impacting on their development and academic achievement. However we do not yet know if it is the underlying cause of the epilepsy or the ongoing epileptic brain activity that contributes most to these problems.

Additionally, the way in which these factors lead to learning problems is poorly understood.


To evaluate the role of sleep in learning (specifically memory consolidation) in children with different types of focal epilepsy, and determine whether this is disrupted compared to healthy children. This should lead to a better understanding of the causes of cognitive impairment in epilepsy.

Outline plan

The team will evaluate EEG recordings of children with epilepsy aged between 6 to 16 years who are undergoing presurgical evaluation for drug resistant focal epilepsy. The children will undertake learning and memory tasks and also undergo neuropsychological testing.

A control group will be recruited from healthy siblings. They will undergo the memory tasks, neuropsychological testing as well as overnight EEG recording for sleep analysis.


Data collection on control subjects is now complete, and patient recruitment stands at 90% of the target. Behavioural data from the control subjects has been analysed, allowing the validation of an English-language sleep dependent memory consolidation task, and facilitating an interim analysis of the patient data. Visual analysis of the EEG data is ongoing, yielding information on sleep parameters.


Samantha Chan, Torsten Baldeweg, Stewart Boyd, Rod Scott, Krishna Das, Ronit Pressler, Helen Cross.

Cyber EssentialsFundraising RegulatorYoung Epilepsy is the operating name of The National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy (NCYPE).
Registered Charity number 311877 (England and Wales)

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