Purpose: In a previous investigation (Lah et al., 2004), we found deficits in retrograde memory in patients who had undergone temporal lobectomy (TL). In this study, we set out to determine whether such deficits are present before surgery in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Methods: Memory for public and autobiographic facts and events was assessed in patients with focal left-sided (n = 15) or right-sided (n = 14) TLE and healthy control subjects (n = 15). The impact of epilepsy and underlying cognitive deficits on retrograde memory also was examined. Results: Patients with left TLE demonstrated retrograde memory deficits across domains. Patients with right TLE showed defective recall only in the autobiographic domain. Young age at onset (younger than 14 years) was associated with greater difficulties in recall of famous events, and patients receiving polytherapy had significantly reduced recall of autobiographic events compared with those receiving monotherapy. In most cases, deficient memory for the past was associated with impairments in other cognitive skills, especially language abilities. Conclusions: In unoperated-on patients with TLE, we found deficits in retrograde memory that were similar to those seen after TL, with the pattern of deficits being influenced by side of lesion, anticonvulsant medication, and word-finding deficits. Unlike patients tested after right TL, patients with right TLE did not have difficulty recalling details of famous events, which raises the possibility that right TL results in a decline in this aspect of retrograde memory.
- Autobiographic memory
- Retrograde memory