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Mapping the neuropsychological profile of temporal lobe epilepsy using cognitive network topology and graph theory



Normal cognitive function is defined by harmonious interaction among multiple neuropsychological domains. Epilepsy has a disruptive effect on cognition, but how diverse cognitive abilities differentially interact with one another compared with healthy controls (HC) is unclear. This study used graph theory to analyze the community structure of cognitive networks in adults with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) compared with that in HC.


Neuropsychological assessment was performed in 100 patients with TLE and 82 HC. For each group, an adjacency matrix was constructed representing pair-wise correlation coefficients between raw scores obtained in each possible test combination. For each cognitive network, each node corresponded to a cognitive test; each link corresponded to the correlation coefficient between tests. Global network structure, community structure, and node-wise graph theory properties were qualitatively assessed.


The community structure in patients with TLE was composed of fewer, larger, more mixed modules, characterizing three main modules representing close relationships between the following: 1) aspects of executive function (EF), verbal and visual memory, 2) speed and fluency, and 3) speed, EF, perception, language, intelligence, and nonverbal memory. Conversely, controls exhibited a relative division between cognitive functions, segregating into more numerous, smaller modules consisting of the following: 1) verbal memory, 2) language, perception, and intelligence, 3) speed and fluency, and 4) visual memory and EF. Overall node-wise clustering coefficient and efficiency were increased in TLE.


Adults with TLE demonstrate a less clear and poorly structured segregation between multiple cognitive domains. This panorama suggests a higher degree of interdependency across multiple cognitive domains in TLE, possibly indicating compensatory mechanisms to overcome functional impairments.

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