Association between epilepsy and dementia has been described centuries ago; still many neurobiological, clinical, and therapeutic issues remain unclear. This comorbidity is currently in the focus of experimental, translational, and clinical research.

There are similarities (as well as differences) between patients with dementias and those with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), and between animal models of Alzheimer disease (AD) and TLE. Seizures in the human temporal lobe transiently impair cognition and steadily damage hippocampal circuitry, leading to progressive memory loss; many mechanisms involved in AD influence excitability and cause seizures.

On one hand, there is a multifactorial cognitive deficit in patients with chronic epilepsy; it is driven by the impact of the underlying etiology, the effects of recurrent seizures, adverse effects of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), and psychosocial issues.

On the other hand, seizures are frequently observed in patients with dementia. The incidence of seizures among patients with dementia varies with the etiology of the dementing illness.

The proper choice of AEDs is essential in symptomatic treatment of seizures in patients with dementia; possible risks and benefits of the drug for the elderly patient should be noted.

Better understanding of the converging neurobiological pathways of epilepsy and dementia could enrich the therapeutic armamentarium and allow improved control of both conditions, ameliorate related abnormalities and potentially modify disease progression.


Epilepsy Seizures Cognitive decline Alzheimer’s disease Vascular dementia Apolipoprotein E β-amyloid Hippocampal sclerosis Excitotoxicity Antiepileptic drugs 



The author is sincerely grateful to Prof. Natalia Gulyaeva and Drs. Oxana Danilenko and Mikhail Zinchuk for their invaluable assistance in preparation of this chapter.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology, Neurosurgery and GeneticsRussian National Research Medical University and Moscow Research and Clinical Center for NeuropsychiatryMoscowRussia

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