Intelligence and language functions were examined in 24 children (mean age 9 yrs; range 7-12 yrs) with BECTS and compared with a group of 16 controls matched for age and schooling, in a study at the Instituto Nazionale Neurologico, Milan, Italy. Tests measuring phonemic fluency, verbal expression of semantic knowledge, and reading comprehension revealed mild language defects. Neuropsychological functions were impaired by excess interictal EEG discharges while awake, multifocal spike location, and temporal location. A side-specific impairment was noted, with deficiencies in phonemic fluency correlating with left-sided spikes, and impaired lexical comprehension with right-sided spikes. [1]

COMMENT. Children with BECTS have a slightly lower IQ and subtle language impairments compared to controls. A high spike frequency in the waking state has negative effects on cognitive and language function, whereas the sleeping spike rate shows no correlation. In this study, the BECTS-associated subtle neuropsychological dysfunction is not reflected in any school difficulties. Findings at reexamination in later childhood, when BECTS has resolved, will be of interest.