Memory consolidation in children with epilepsy: Does sleep matter?

Shama Sud, Yair Sadaka, Colin Massicotte, Mary Lou Smith, Laura Bradbury, Cristina Go, Shelly K. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Introduction: Children with epilepsy have frequent sleep disturbance and challenges in learning and memory. There is little research on the consolidation of memory during sleep in this population. The goal of this pilot study was to determine whether children with epilepsy are able to consolidate memories better after a sleep versus wake period as has been demonstrated in typically developing children. Methods: This study was a prospective evaluation of children with epilepsy to determine if sleep improved episodic memory (using word lists) as compared with memory following a wake period of similar duration. The study was conducted in patients in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at a single academic health science center. In the sleep recall condition, the learning trials were presented in the evening, and delayed recall of the words was tested in the morning. In the wake condition, the learning took place in the morning, and the delayed recall took place later in the day. Subjects wore an actigraph to evaluate sleep/wake patterns. Data regarding the children's epilepsy, antiepileptic medications, and frequency of interictal epileptiform discharges were also documented. Results: Ten children (agd 8-17. years) participated in the study. For the entire sample, recall after sleep was better than recall after awake (p. = 0.03), and 7 of the 10 children showed this effect. However, reanalyses removing an outlier showed no difference between the two recall conditions. The mean number of interictal epileptiform discharges was 8.8 during the recall after sleep and 7.8 during the recall after awake. Three children had seizures during the evaluation. Conclusion: In this pilot study, we demonstrated that a small cohort of children with epilepsy, with similar interictal epileptiform discharges during sleep and wake, showed no advantage in memory for a word list after a period of sleep than after a period of being awake. This finding requires further study in a larger cohort. Poor memory consolidation during sleep may contribute to the cognitive deficits in children with epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-180
Number of pages5
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Actigraphy
  • Epilepsy monitoring unit
  • Memory consolidation
  • Pediatric epilepsy
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Memory consolidation in children with epilepsy: Does sleep matter?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this