Autobiographical memory in epileptic patients after temporal lobe resection or bitemporal hippocampal sclerosis

  • Júlia Miró
  • Pablo Ripollés
  • Joanna Sierpowska
  • Mila Santurino
  • Montserrat Juncadella
  • Mercè Falip
  • Antoni Rodríguez-FornellsEmail author


The human hippocampus is believed to be a crucial node in the neural network supporting autobiographical memory retrieval. Structural mesial temporal damage associated with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) provides an opportunity to systematically investigate and better understand the local and distal functional consequences of mesial temporal damage in the engagement of the autobiographical memory network. We examined 19 TLE patients (49.21 ± 11.55 years; 12 females) with unilateral mesial TLE (MTLE; 12 with anterior temporal lobe resection: 6 right MTLE, 6 left MTLE) or bilateral mesial TLE (7 BMTLE) and 18 matched healthy subjects. We used functional MRI (fMRI) with an adapted autobiographical memory paradigm and a specific neuropsychological test (Autobiographical Memory Interview, AMI). While engaged in the fMRI autobiographical memory paradigm, all groups activated a large fronto-temporo-parietal network. However, while this network was left lateralized for healthy participants and right MTLE patients, left MTLE and patients with BMTLE also showed strong activation in right temporal and frontal regions. Moreover, BMTLE and left MTLE patients also showed significant mild deficits in episodic autobiographical memory performance measured with the AMI test. The right temporal and extra-temporal fMRI activation, along with the impairment in autobiographical memory retrieval found in left MTLE and BMTLE patients suggest that alternate brain areas—other than the hippocampus—may also support this process, possibly due to neuroplastic effects.


Episodic memory Temporal epilepsy Bitemporal epilepsy Functional MRI Autobiographic network 



This project was partially supported by a grant from the Spanish Government (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, PSI2011-29219), by Instituto de Salud Carlos III through the project PI16/00392 (Co-funded by European Regional Development Fund. ERDF, a way to build Europe), and by the FPU program awarded to PR (AP2010-4179) and JS (12/04117). Júlia Miró is the recipient of a research contract (code: JR14/0031) from the Carlos III National Health Institute (Spanish Government).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests relevant to the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Júlia Miró
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pablo Ripollés
    • 1
    • 3
  • Joanna Sierpowska
    • 1
    • 4
  • Mila Santurino
    • 2
  • Montserrat Juncadella
    • 2
  • Mercè Falip
    • 2
  • Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Cognition and Brain Plasticity GroupBellvitge Biomedical Research Institute-IDIBELLBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Epilepsy Unit, Neurology DepartmentUniverstiy Hospital of BellvitgeBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Cognition, Development and Education PsychologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced StudiesICREA08010 BarcelonaSpain

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