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The cause of epileptic seizures may not be apparent in as many as 50-70% of cases. This can be frustrating to patients.

Common risk factors include:

  • Developmental disabilities
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Abnormal blood vessels in the brain
  • Brain injuries
  • Brain tumors
  • Brain infections
  • Stroke
  • Family history of epilepsy
  • Seizures with high fevers
  • Dementia
  • Fever-related (febrile) seizures that are unusually long
  • Drug abuse


Cognition in Epilepsy

Cognitive deficits are relatively common in people with epilepsy, and may correspond to disruptions of affected brain regions, side effects from antiepileptic drugs and/or a combination of these factors.

Among those with partial seizure disorders, seizures start in the temporal lobes in 50-80% of cases and may lead to problems with learning and memory (this is especially the case when seizures have led to scar tissue emerging deep within the temporal lobe (known as mesial temporal sclerosis); word-finding difficulty and other language impairments may also occur, as well as mood alterations (e.g., depression and anxiety). Individuals with frontal lobe seizures make up about 20-30% of focal cases and can have chronic problems with impulsivity, planning, organization and self-monitoring of behaviors/reactions, as well as acute issues with motor control. Occipital lobe seizures (6-8% of cases) and parietal lobe seizures (1-6% of cases) are much less common, but these disorders may cause deficits in sensation and perception.