Can Methylphenidate Treat Cognitive Deficits in Epilepsy?

Statistically significant performance benefit seen with methylphenidate
Statistically significant performance benefit seen with methylphenidate

A study published in Neurology suggests that methylphenidate may help ameliorate some cognitive deficits in patients with epilepsy.

To compare the potential efficacy of immediate-release methylphenidate vs. placebo in treating cognitive deficits in epilepsy, researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized, single-dose, 3-period crossover study (n=35). Patients with epilepsy and chronic cognitive complaints participated in three medication visits (approximately 1 week apart) where they were administered one of the blinded preparations (placebo, methylphenidate 10mg or 20mg).

Researchers evaluated cognitive outcome based on an omnibus z score calculated from performance on the Conners Continuous Performance Test 3, Symbol-Digit Modalities Test, and Medical College of Georgia Paragraph Memory Test. They also monitored adverse events and seizure frequency among patients.

Of the 35 adults with epilepsy who were enrolled, 31 completed the study. The mean epilepsy duration among patients was 12.5 years. 

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The data indicated a statistically significant performance benefit seen with methylphenidate 10mg (P=0.030) and methylphenidate 20mg (P=0.034) doses. No seizures were seen in either of the methylphenidate arms. Cognitive "fogginess," anxiety/agitation, and tachycardia were cited as adverse effects leading to withdrawal.

Findings from this single-dose study suggest possible efficacy in treating cognitive deficits in patients with epilepsy but additional studies are required, study authors concluded.

For more information visit neurology.org.

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