Chronic epilepsy is frequently accompanied by serious cognitive side-effects. Clinical factors are important, but cannot account entirely for this cognitive comorbidity. Therefore, research is focusing on the underlying cerebral mechanisms to understand the development of cognitive dysfunction. In the past two decades, functional mri techniques have been applied extensively to the study of cognitive impairment in chronic epilepsy. However, because of wide variation in study designs, analysis methods, and data presentation, interpretation of these studies has become increasingly difficult for clinicians. In patients with localisation-related epilepsy, whether findings of functional mri represent the underlying neuronal substrate for cognitive decline remains a subject of debate.