Depression may worsen cognitive abilities (thinking skills) in people with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), according to a study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. Treating depression in this group of people could therefore lead to improvements in cognition.The study, led by Dr Jennifer Davis, at Brown University in Rhode Island, analysed how depression contributes to reduced executive functioning in people with TLE.Executive functioning is defined as a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behaviour. In other words, it is a set of skills that allows people to plan, organise and complete tasks. There are eight key executive functions that are used to organise and act on information, which include impulse control, emotional control, flexible thinking, working memory, self monitoring, planning and prioritising, task initiation and organisation. A significant proportion of people with TLE experience impairment in executive functioning.The researchers recruited a total of 82 people, of whom 29 had TLE only, 22 had TLE and depression and 31 had depression only. They asked the participants to complete the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System, a neuropsychological test that measures a variety of verbal and nonverbal executive functions and provides an evaluation of higher-level cognitive functions.The results showed that subjects with both TLE and depression had poorer executive functioning than those with TLE only.According to the authors: “These findings support the notion that depression may further contribute to executive difficulties in individuals with TLE.” They suggest that the types of deficits associated with depression in TLE may be different than those associated with other types of depression. They conclude that future studies should investigate which aspects of executive functioning improve when depression is treated in TLE.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about conditions related to epilepsy.