, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 413-425

Neuropsychological and Behavioral Effects of Antiepilepsy Drugs

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Abstract

Antiepilepsy drugs work by decreasing neuronal irritability, which may also result in the non-desired side effect of decreased neuropsychological function. In addition to cognitive side effects, antiepilepsy drugs (AEDs) may be associated with behavioral effects which may range from irritability and hyperactivity to positive psychotropic effects on mood. There have been many new medications released since the 1990s, and although they tend to have more favorable side effect profiles compared to their older counterparts, there continues to be a risk of decreased cognitive function with the majority of these agents. The effects of in utero antiepilepsy drug exposure are increasingly being investigated, and differential drug risk is beginning to be described for both anatomic and cognitive outcomes. Patients with epilepsy undergoing neuropsychological evaluations are commonly on AEDs, and it is important for the clinician to recognize the potential contribution of AED therapy to neuropsychological profiles. The present article serves to provide an overview of our current understanding regarding the risks of antiepilepsy drug use for both cognitive and behavioral side effects.