The effects of frequent brief seizures on learning, memory, and behavior in the young animal were studied at the Department of Neurology, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; and Veterans Administration Medical Center and Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Three groups of animals were used: Group 1 immature genetically epilepsy prone rats (GEPRs) subjected to 66 audiogenic stimulations; Group 2 GEPR littermates handled and placed in the sound chamber but not stimulated; Group 3 genetically epilepsy resistant rats (GERRs) who received audiogenic stimulations but had no seizures. Tests for learning, memory and behavior, using the T-maze, water maze, open field activity test, home cage intruder test and handling test, were investigated after three weeks of stimulations. Compared with GERRs and control GEPRs, experimental GEPRs performed less well in the T-maze and water maze tests of learning and memory. They also differed in behavior and activity level. The study demonstrated that frequent brief seizures in immature animals results in significant detrimental changes in learning, memory, activity level, and behavior. [1]

COMMENT. Some children with poorly controlled epilepsy have a progressive decline of IQ on serial intelligence tests [2] and [3]. The cause of this epileptic dementia in children is not always clearly understood. The underlying disease process may be degenerative in nature and sometimes the adverse side effects of anticonvulsant medications have been implicated. In the present paper the potential cognitive depressant effects of repeated generalized seizures are emphasized and age of onset of the seizure disorder may be a critical factor in determining whether deficits in learning and behavior occur.