Abstract

Material-specific memory dysfunction was assessed using a nonverbal, visuospatial, supraspan learning test, the Biber Figure Learning Test-Extended (BFLT-E), in 71 left-hemisphere language-dominant epilepsy patients prior to anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) and in 48 age-matched healthy subjects. Two matched forms of the BFLT-E yielded comparable scores, indicating that this task may be used to track memory performance over time in individual patients. Right temporal lobe epilepsy (RTLE) and left temporal lobe epilepsy (LTLE) patients performed below healthy subjects on all free-recall measures. RTLE, but not LTLE, patients also differed from healthy subjects in recognition memory discrimination. Furthermore, the RTLE patients performed below LTLE patients on measures specific to long-term memory abilities. The BFLT-E appears to be a useful clinical tool for assessing different components of visuospatial memory in patients with lateralized mesial temporal lobe (MTL) dysfunction. The test is sensitive to visuoconstructional problems associated with various types of brain damage, but it also distinguishes material-specific, nonverbal, visuospatial memory impairments in patients with neurological dysfunction in the non language-dominant right temporal lobe.