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Objective: We used functional MRI (fMRI) and a left-lateralizing verbal and a right-lateralizing visual-spatial working memory (WM) paradigm to investigate the effects of levetiracetam (LEV) on cognitive network activations in patients with drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).

Methods: In a retrospective study, we compared task-related fMRI activations and deactivations in 53 patients with left and 54 patients with right TLE treated with (59) or without (48) LEV. In patients on LEV, activation patterns were correlated with the daily LEV dose.

Results: We isolated task- and syndrome-specific effects. Patients on LEV showed normalization of functional network deactivations in the right temporal lobe in right TLE during the right-lateralizing visual-spatial task and in the left temporal lobe in left TLE during the verbal task. In a post hoc analysis, a significant dose-dependent effect was demonstrated in right TLE during the visual-spatial WM task: the lower the LEV dose, the greater the abnormal right hippocampal activation. At a less stringent threshold (p < 0.05, uncorrected for multiple comparisons), a similar dose effect was observed in left TLE during the verbal task: both hippocampi were more abnormally activated in patients with lower doses, but more prominently on the left.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that LEV is associated with restoration of normal activation patterns. Longitudinal studies are necessary to establish whether the neural patterns translate to drug response.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class III evidence that in patients with drug-resistant TLE, levetiracetam has a dose-dependent facilitation of deactivation of mesial temporal structures.

(C) 2014 American Academy of Neurology