What is the Connection Between Seizures and Memory Loss?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2018
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There is a clear connection between seizures and memory loss. During a seizure, the person is unable to process any information about the event. Once the episode has passed and brain function returns to normal, the short-term memory loss symptom also subsides.

Different patients have varying experiences with seizures and memory loss. When the person experiences a violent seizure, they may have absolutely no recall of the seizure itself. Once the episode has passed, their memory returns to normal.

In other cases, a person who has experienced a seizure will have impaired memory issues on an ongoing basis. When a person has the condition known as anterograde amnesia, he or she can remember events that took place before the seizure occurred. The issue is with events that take place after the seizure. The patient's brain doesn't store them in the part of the brain responsible for long-term memory.

These people find it challenging to remember common events, such as appointments. They may need to be reminded to take their medications as prescribed. Being able to recall someone's name is another area that may be challenging after a seizure.


A third scenario that can occur in epilepsy patients is where the person is able to have a conversation and respond to others during the seizure but has no memory of what he or she said or did afterward. The patient would have to rely on others to fill in the blanks about the event. The fact that there is a link between seizures and memory loss is of little comfort after one of these "missing time" episodes.

During an epileptic seizure, the patient's brain experiences an abnormally high level of electrical activity. The seizure can be confined to a specific area of the brain only. It can also be generalized, which means that the entire brain is affected, and is part of the link between seizures and memory loss.

This abnormal activity can affect the hippocampus, which is the portion of the brain responsible for memory. This is also the part of the brain that helps with processing information. When an epileptic person continues to have seizures with activity located in the same area, brain tissues may be damaged.

This damage to the brain is directly responsible for the connection between seizures and memory loss. Depending on which part of the brain has been affected, the patient may have trouble remembering spoken words, written language, what they saw or directions. Some people experience short-term memory loss which makes it difficult for them to focus for an extended time.



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