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Neurocognitive Group



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Neuroimaging of Epilepsy at Brain Research Institute


Research Objectives

Our research has concentrated on language and memory function in epilepsy, with the aim of understanding the relationship between these and the brain disorders that cause epilepsy. Accordingly we have studied language and memory in relation to structural (MRI) and functional neuroimaging (fMRI and PET) and neuropathological classification of disease.

Our research objectives include:

  1. To provide a clinical neuropsychological service to the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program. The essential aim of this service is to characterise the neurocognitive status of patients with intractible seizures who are being considered for surgical treatment, and to estimate the post-operative risk of cognitive complications. Patients are monitored neuropsychologically after surgery for the purpose of documenting cognitive outcome.
  2. To carry out research on the relationship between epileptogenic pathology and cognitive function. The work is aimed at improving our understanding of the organization of cognitive function in the focal epilepsies, and improving our capacity to predict cognitive outcomes after surgery.  This work is performed with colleagues in the School of Behavioural Science and the Department of Neuropsychology at Austin Health.
  3. Exploring psychosocial issues related to individuals and families with epilepsy
  4. Developing a better understanding of non-epileptic seizures


Key People


Research Outcomes

  • Characterisation of the clinical presentation of memory disturbances in epilepsy.
  • Lateralisation of verbal memory is relative to specific cognitive processes involved in the various verbal memory paradigms that are used in the evaluation of patients with epilepsy. We have termed this the task-specificity model.
  • Our improved understanding of the intratemporal organization of verbal memory has led to better prediction of surgical outcome.
  • Language production, in the form of connected discourse has been studied in temporal lobe epilepsy, and has led to the view that typical behavioural characteristics such as circumstantiality and stickiness might be of psycholinguistic origin.
  • fMRI paradigms for the lateralisation of language have been developed, and are now preferred, in many cases, to invasive procedures such as the sodium amytal test.
  • Parahippocampal studies have highlighted its importance in the mediation of arbitrary and semantic forms of verbal memory.



Some of our important publications are listed below. More publications and details can be found using the search engine PubMed or on Prof Michael Saling and A/Prof Sarah Wilson's University of Melbourne Profiles.

  • Saling, M. M. , Berkovic, S. F., O'Shea, M. F., Kalnins, R., Darby, D. G., & Bladin, P. F. (1993). Lateralization of verbal memory and unilateral hippocampal sclerosis: evidence of task-specific effects. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 15, 608-618.
  • Piguet, O., Saling, M. M., O'Shea, M. F., Berkovic, S. F., & Bladin, P.F. (1994). Rey figure distortions discriminate right and left foci in temporal lobe epilepsy. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 9, 451-460.
  • O'Shea, M. F., Saling, M. M., & Bladin, P. F. (1994). Can metamemory be localized? Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 16, 640-646
  • Howell, R. A., Saling, M. M., Bradley, D. C., & Berkovic, S. F. (1994). Interictal language fluency in temporal lobe epilepsy. Cortex, 30, 469-478.
  • Maddocks, D. L., Saling, M. M., & Dicker, G. D. (1995). A note on normative data for a test sensitive to concussion in Australian rules footballers. Australian Psychologist, 30, 125-127.
  • Maddocks, D. L., Dicker, G.D., & Saling, M. M. (1995). The assessment of orientation following concussion in athletes. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 5(1), 32-35.
  • Maddocks, D. L. & Saling, M. M. (1995). Is cerebral concussion a transient phenomenon? The Medical Journal of Australia, 162, 167 [letter].
  • Scheffer, IE, Jones, L, Pozzebon, M, Howell, RA, Saling, MM, & Berkovic, SF. (1995). Autosomal dominant Rolandic epilepsy and speech dyspraxia: a new syndrome with anticipation. Annals of Neurology, 38, 633-642
  • O'Shea, MF, Saling, MM, Bladin, PF, & Berkovic, SF. (1996). Does naming contribute to memory self report in temporal lobe epilepsy? Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 18, 98-109.
  • Maddocks, D. L. & Saling, M. M. (1996). Neuropsychological sequelae following concussion in Australian Rules footballers. Brain Injury, 10, 99-104.
  • Donnan, G. A., Darby, D., & Saling, M. M. (1997). Commentary: Identification of brain region for co-ordinating speech articulation. Lancet, 349, 221-222.
  • Wilson, SJ, Saling, MM, Kincade, P, & Bladin, PF. (1998). Patient expectations of temporal lobe surgery. Epilepsia, 39, 167-174.
  • Scheffer, IE, Phillips, HA, O'Brien, C, Saling, MM, Wrennall, JA, Wallace, RH, Mulley, JC & Berkovic, SF. (1998). Familial Partial Epilepsy with Variable Foci: A new partial epilepsy syndrome with suggestion of linkage to chromosome 2. Annals of Neurology, 44, 890-899.
  • Wood, AG, Saling, MM, O'Shea, MF, Jackson, GD, & Berkovic, SF. (1999). Reorganisation of verbal memory and language: A case of dissociation. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 5, 69-74.
  • Wilson, SJ, Kincade, P, Saling, MM, Bladin, PF. (1998). Patient readmission and support utilization post anterior temporal lobectomy. Seizure, 7, 1-6.
  • Mitchell, LA, Jackson, GD, Kalnins, RM, Saling, MM, Fitt, GJ, Berkovic, SF. (1999). Anterior temporal abnormality in temporal lobe epilepsy: a quantitative MRI and histopathology study. Neurology, 52, 327-336
  • Donnan, GA, Carey, LM, & Saling, MM. (1999). More (or less) on Broca. Lancet, 353, 1031-1032.
  • Wilson, SJ, Saling, MM, Lawrence, J, Bladin, PF. (1999). Outcome of temporal lobectomy: Expectations and the prediction of perceived success. Epilepsy Research, 36, 1-14.
  • Bladin, PF, Wilson, SJ, Saling, MM, Kincade, P, McIntosh, AM, OÕShea, MF. (1999). Outcome assessment in seizure surgery: the role of post-operative adjustment. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 6, 313-318.
  • O'Shea, MF, Saling, MM, Berkovic, SF. (1999). Behavioural status during the intracarotid amobarbital procedure (Wada test): significance for surgical management. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 67, 549.
  • Wood, AG, Saling, MM, O'Shea, MF, Berkovic, SF, Jackson, GD. (2000). Components of verbal learning and hippocampal damage assessed by T2 relaxometry. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 6, 529-538.
  • Field, SJ, Saling, MM, & Berkovic, SF. (2000). Interictal discourse production in temporal lobe epilepsy. Brain and Language, 74, 213-222
  • Wilson, SJ, Bladin, PF, Saling, MM, McIntosh, AM, & Lawrence, J. (2001). The longitudinal course of adjustment after seizure surgery. Seizure, 10, 165-172
  • Wilson, SJ, Bladin, PF, Saling, MM. (2001). The Òburden of normalityÓ: concepts of adjustment after seizure surgery. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 70, 649-656
  • Wood, AG, Saling, MM, Abbott, DF, & Jackson, GD. (2001). A neurocognitive account of frontal lobe involvement in orthographic lexical retrieval: Preliminary insights with fMRI. NeuroImage, 14 (1), 162-169
  • Savage, GR, Saling, MM, Davis, CW, & Berkovic, SF. (2002). Direct and indirect measures of verbal relational memory following anterior temporal lobectomy. Neuropsychologia, 40, 302-316
  • Weintrob, DL, Saling, MM, Berkovic, SF, Berlangieri SU, Reutens, DC. (2002). Verbal memory in left temporal lobe epilepsy: Evidence for task-related localization. Annals of Neurology, 51, 442-447
  • Baird AD, Wilson SJ, Bladin PF, Saling MM, and Reutens DC. (2002). Hyper sexuality after temporal lobe resection. Epilepsy and Behaviour, 3, 173-181.
  • Anderson D, Harvey AS, Saling MM, Anderson V, Kean M, Jacobs R, Abbott DF, Wellard RM, Puce A, Jackson G. (2002). Differential fMRI language activation in twins discordant for a left frontal tumour. Journal of Child Neurology, 17, 766-769
  • Saling MM, O'Shea MF, Weintrob DL, Wood AG, Reutens DC & Berkovic SF (2002). Medial and lateral contributions to verbal memory: Evidence from temporal lobe epilepsy. In A Yamadori, R Kawashima, T Fujii, & K Suzuki (Eds.), Frontiers of Memory. Sendai: Tohoku University Press, pp. 151-158.
  • Baird AD, Wilson SJ, Bladin PF, Saling MM, & Reutens DC. (2003). Sexual Outcome after epilepsy surgery. Epilepsy and Behaviour, 4, 268-278
  • Briellmann RS, Mitchell LA, Waites AB, Abbott DF, Pell GS, Saling MM, & Jackson GD. (2003). Correlation between language organization and diffusion tensor abnormalities in refractory partial epilepsy. Epilepsia, 44, 1541-1545.
  • Briellmann RS, Saling MM, Connell AB, Waites AB, Abbott DF, and Jackson GD. (2004). A High-Field Functional MRI Study of Quadri-Lingual Subjects. Brain and Language (accepted 10th December 2003, with minor revisions)
  • Wilson SJ, Bladin PB, Saling MM. (2004). Paradoxical results in the cure of chronic illness: The Ôburden of normalityÕ as exemplified following seizure surgery. Epilepsy and Behaviour, 5, 13-21.
  • Baird AD, Wilson SJ, Bladin PF, Saling MM, Reutens DC. (2004). The amygdala and sexual drive: Insights from temporal lobe epilepsy. Annals of Neurology, 55, 87-96.
  • Kalnins RM, McIntosh AM, Saling MM, Berkovic SF, Jackson GD, Briellmann RS. (2004). Subtle microscopic abnormalities in hippocampal sclerosis do not predict clinical features of temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsia in press (letter dated 14/2/04).
  • Saling, MM. Neuropsychology and neuroimaging. In G. Jackson & R.Kuzniecky (Eds). Magnetic Resonance in Epilepsy. New York: Academic Press 2005.
  • Briellmann RS, Labate A, Harvey AS, Saling MM, Sveller C, Lillywhite L, Abbott DF, Jackson GD. Is language lateralization in temporal lobe epilepsy patients related to the nature of the epileptogenic lesion? Epilepsia 2006; 47: 916-920.
  • Sveller C, Briellmann RS, Saling MM, Lillywhite L, Abbott DF, Masterton R, Jackson GD. Relationship between language lateralization and handedness in left-hemispheric partial epilepsy. Neurology 2006: 67: 1813-1817.
  • Weintrob DL, Saling MM, Berkovic SF, Reutens DC. Imparied verbal associative learning after resection of left perirhinal cortex. Brain 2007; 130; 1423-1431.

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Created: 15 Sept 2003
Last modified: 1 Feb 2012
Authorised by: Prof Sam Berkovic
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Maintained by: Susannah Bellows
Email: epilepsy-austin@unimelb.edu.au
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