Reading in children with temporal lobe epilepsy: a systematic review

Suncica Lah, Anne Castles, Mary Lou Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    OBJECTIVE: Children with epilepsy have higher rates of reading difficulties compared to the general population. Reading difficulties are associated with lower academic attainments, higher school drop-out rates, greater risk of unemployment, lower income, and poorer adjustment. We examined the literature dealing with reading in children with the most common type of focal epilepsy, temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), in relation to: presence of reading difficulties, contributing factors, and efficacy of treatments for reading difficulties.

    METHODS: We searched databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and PubMed) for studies published before September 2016. Included studies (i) reported on a group of children with TLE, (ii) used a standardized reading test or included a control group, (iii) involved original research published in peer reviewed journals in the English language.

    RESULTS: Of 2018 citations obtained through literature searches, six met inclusion criteria. Reading accuracy and/or reading comprehension were assessed using different tests. All but one study found statistical evidence of reading difficulties in children with TLE. Only two studies examined relations between cognitive deficits and reading. One found that memory contributed to reading accuracy and comprehension. Another found evidence of a small decline in reading accuracy, which was not associated with a decline in memory post-surgery. Several studies were underpowered, giving false negative findings and not allowing relations between epilepsy factors, underlying cognitive deficits, and reading to be adequately examined. No study examined efficacy of reading intervention in this patient population.

    SIGNIFICANCE: We showed that reading difficulties that are present in children with TLE are under researched, yet they have significant functional consequences through childhood and into adulthood. There is an urgent need to identify risk factors and investigate efficacy of treatments for reading difficulties in children with TLE, as this will enable early identification and evidence-based treatment to be delivered in clinical practice.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)84-94
    Number of pages11
    JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


    • literacy
    • cognition
    • temporal lobectomy
    • pediatric


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