Investigators at University-Hospital of Parma, Universities of Verona, Modena, and Bologna, Italy; and Epilepsy Clinic Las Condes, Santiago, Chile, studied facial emotion recognition ability in a group of 38 school-aged children with antecedent febrile seizures (FSs) and in an age- and sex-matched control group. Using Ekman and Friesen’s Pictures of Facial Affect, the basic innate emotions studied were happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. Children with abnormal visuoperceptual abilities were excluded. Children with FSs showed lower recognition scores versus controls in both matching (p<0001) and labeling (p=.001) facial emotions. [1]

COMMENT. Emotion recognition abilities may be defective in school-aged children with a history of FSs, even in those with a single simple FS. FSs may alter long-term plasticity in extrahippocampal limbic regions, such as amygdala and insular cortex. Neural networks underlying facial emotion recognition involve the visual cortices, the amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, insula, basal ganglia, and prefrontal cortex.

In patients with medial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE), common and widespread deficits of emotion recognition are well recognized [2] but the above findings in children with simple FSs are new and suggest that the FS is not entirely benign.