Neuropsychological and neurophysiologic effects of carbamazepine and levetiracetam

K. J. Meador, A. Gevins, D. W. Loring, L. K. McEvoy, P. G. Ray, M. E. Smith, G. K. Motamedi, B. M. Evans, C. Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The relative effects of levetiracetam (LEV) and carbamazepine (CBZ) on cognitive and neurophysiologic measures are uncertain. METHODS: The effects of LEV and CBZ were compared in healthy adults using a randomized, double-blind, two-period crossover design. Outcome measures included 11 standard neuropsychological tests and the score from a cognitive-neurophysiologic test of attention and memory. Evaluations were conducted at screening, baseline pre-drug treatment, end of each maintenance phase (4 weeks), and end of each washout period after drug treatment. RESULTS: A total of 28 adults (17 women) with mean age of 33 years (range 18 to 51) completed the study. Mean maintenance doses (±SD) were CBZ = 564 mg/day (110) and LEV = 2,000 mg/day (0). CBZ was adjusted to mid-range therapeutic level. Mean serum levels (±SD) were CBZ = 7.5 mcg/mL (1.5) and LEV = 32.2 mcg/mL (11.2). An overall composite score including all measures revealed worse effects for CBZ compared to LEV (p ≤ 0.001) in the primary analysis and for CBZ (p ≤ 0.001) and LEV (p ≤ 0.05) compared to non-drug in secondary analyses. Across the 34 individual variables, CBZ was worse than LEV on 44% (15/34); none favored CBZ. Compared to the non-drug average, CBZ was worse for 76% (26/34), and LEV was worse for 12% (4 of 34). Sensitivity and specificity of standard neuropsychological tests and the cognitive-neurophysiologic test were determined to direct future studies; detection was most accurate by the cognitive-neurophysiologic test. CONCLUSIONS: Levetiracetam produces fewer untoward neuropsychological and neurophysiologic effects than carbamazepine in monotherapy at the dosages and timeframes employed in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2076-2084
Number of pages9
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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