INTRODUCTION Multiple factors underlie the cognitive changes associated with epilepsy, including the effect of antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy itself. The use of AEDs in the management of epilepsy requires an ongoing risk-benefit analysis that attempts to maximize seizure control while minimizing adverse cognitive side-effects.
AIM This review focuses on the global and specific cognitive effects of the classic and the new AEDs. DEVELOPMENT. All of the established AEDs can produce cognitive side effects, which are increased with polypharmacy and with increasing dosage and anticonvulsant blood levels. The main disorders are a diminished reaction and information processing time with alterations affecting memory, attention and language. Further, there is much debate concerning the existence and clinical importance of differential AED cognitive side effects and a large portion of the literature examining the comparative cognitive effects of AEDs is limited by inadequate study designs.