This brain disorder is marked by recurrent seizures caused by abnormal brain electrical activity. It is difficult to estimate the prevalence of cognitive and memory problems in people with epilepsy because these problems can be caused by a large number of factors, including the illness itself, underlying brain pathology, antiepileptic medications, and epilepsy surgery. Regardless of the specific cause, cognitive symptoms are invariably at the top of the list of concerns presented by these patients.

In particular, verbal memory loss (difficulty remembering words) is a risk of temporal lobe epilepsy surgery, which is sometimes performed to control seizures when medication has not been effective. The risk is greatest with surgery in the left hemisphere, the side of the brain that is specialized for language in most people. Careful presurgical evaluation and planning can mitigate this risk for a large majority of patients. The strategies for optimal memory that I discuss in this book can be effective for people with epilepsy.

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