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Fluoxetine restores spatial learning but not accelerated forgetting in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy

Lisa Barkas, Edward Redhead, Matthew Taylor, Anan Shtaya, Derek A. Hamilton, William P. Gray
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/aws176 2358-2374 First published online: 28 July 2012


Learning and memory dysfunction is the most common neuropsychological effect of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, and because the underlying neurobiology is poorly understood, there are no pharmacological strategies to help restore memory function in these patients. We have demonstrated impairments in the acquisition of an allocentric spatial task, in patients with unilateral hippocampal sclerosis. We also show that patients have accelerated forgetting of the learned spatial task and that this is associated with damage to the non-dominant hippocampal formation. We go on to show a very similar pattern of chronic allocentric learning and accelerated forgetting in a status epilepticus model of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy in rats, which is associated with reduced and abnormal hippocampal neurogenesis. Finally, we show that reversal of the neurogenic deficit using fluoxetine is associated with reversal of the learning deficit but not the accelerated forgetting, pointing to a possible dissociation in the underlying mechanisms, as well as a potential therapeutic strategy for improving hippocampal-dependant learning in patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy.

  • epilepsy
  • epilepsy memory impairment
  • neurogenesis
  • mesial temporal sclerosis
  • spatial memory
  • Abbreviation
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