It is now well appreciated that benign epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BECTS, or more recently, ECTS) is associated with a range of cognitive and behavioral disturbances. Despite our improved understanding of cognitive functioning in ECTS, there have been to date no efforts to quantitatively synthesize the available literature within a comprehensive cognitive framework.
The present systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. Forty-two case–control samples met eligibility criteria comprising a total of 1,237 children with ECTS and 1,137 healthy control children. Univariate, random-effects meta-analyses were conducted on eight cognitive factors in accordance with the Cattell–Horn–Carroll model of intelligence.
Overall, children with ECTS demonstrated significantly lower scores on neuropsychological tests across all cognitive factors compared to healthy controls. Observed effects ranged from 0.42 to 0.81 pooled standard deviation units, with the largest effect for long-term storage and retrieval and the smallest effect for visual processing.
The results of the present meta-analysis provide the first clear evidence that children with ECTS display a profile of pervasive cognitive difficulties and thus challenge current conceptions of ECTS as a benign disease or of limited specific or localized cognitive effect.