Topiramate effects on the EEG and alertness in healthy volunteers: A different profile of antiepileptic drug neurotoxicity

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27 Scopus citations


Objective: Previous quantitative EEG (QEEG) studies of carbamazepine (CBZ), oxcarbazepine (OXC), and phenytoin (PHT) revealed a pattern of EEG slowing and an increase in drowsiness on the awake maintenance task (AMT). EEG slowing has been shown to correlate with negative effects on cognitive tests. Topiramate (TPM) is a novel AED with relatively large negative effects on cognitive function. We tested the hypothesis that TPM would induce significant slowing of EEG background rhythms and an increase in AMT drowsiness. Methods: Forty healthy volunteers were randomized to TPM, gabapentin (GBP), or placebo. Doses were escalated as tolerated to a maximum of 400 mg/day for TPM or 3600 mg/day for GBP, over a 10-week period, followed by a minimum 2-week plateau period. Volunteers underwent an EEG, cognitive tests, and the AMT prior to starting an AED and again 12 weeks later. The EEG was captured using a structured recording protocol and quantified using the fast Fourier transform. Four target measures were derived from the averaged occipital electrodes (peak frequency of the dominant posterior rhythm, median frequency, percentage theta, and percentage delta). Test-retest changes for all measures were scored against similar test-retest distributions previously obtained from untreated healthy volunteers. Results: TPM produced no significant change in any of the four target EEG measures or on the AMT, even though several target cognitive tests revealed moderate or greater negative effects. There were also no significant changes in the placebo group. GBP slowed the peak and median frequency EEG measures and increased the percentage of theta and delta activity. Neither TPM, GBP, nor placebo caused a significant increase in drowsiness on the AMT. Conclusions: TPM has a unique neurotoxicity profile. It has no effect on EEG background measures or on the AMT, but induces moderate to large negative changes in many cognitive test scores. This profile differs from those of CBZ, OXC, PHT, and GBP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-469
Number of pages7
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Cognition
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Gabapentin
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Topiramate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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