Epilepsy is a neurological disease stemming from a deregulation of brain signaling. Nerve cells within the brain, called neurons, commonly communicate with each other through cell junctions called synapses. One nerve cell sends a chemical signal to a neighboring cell, which then activates an electrical nerve impulse within the receiving neuron. Together, the series of electrical impulses allows for proper brain functioning. Epilepsy develops when nerve cells lose the ability to turn off electrical impulses, leading to over-stimulation of certain areas of the brain. The disease can affect multiple centers of the brain and cause a range of symptoms.
Some forms of epilepsy can affect the temporal lobes of the brain--regions that extend along each side of the brain 1. Epilepsy.com indicates that the temporal lobes are the most common site of localized epileptic seizures, although seizures beginning in the temporal lobes can extend to other parts of the brain 1. Temporal lobe epilepsy can lead to a number of symptoms, including auras and hallucinations 1. Patients experiencing temporal lobe seizures can hallucinate visions, sounds, tastes and smalls for the duration of the seizure, as well as feel an inability to explain their sensations afterwards 1. Left untreated, temporal lobe seizures can lead to brain damage due to over-stimulation of brain cells 1.
About Seizures During Sleep
Epileptic seizures can also occur in the occipital lobe, a region found at the back of the brain behind the temporal lobes 1. Epilepsy affecting this lobe of the brain account for between five and 10 percent of total epilepsy cases, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center 1. The occipital lobe contains nerve centers that help process visual stimulation, so patients experiencing occipital lobe epilepsy typically experience visual hallucinations of flashing or repeated images, involuntary eye movements, or partial blindness 1. In most cases, occipital lobe epilepsy can be treated with drug therapy, though severe epilepsy cases may require surgery to correct the underlying cause of the seizures 1.
Frontal lobe epilepsy, which effects the anterior lobe of the brain near the forehead, is the second most common type of localized epilepsy, according to Epilepsy.com 1. The frontal lobe contains centers that control voluntary and involuntary motor functioning, and seizures within the frontal lobe can cause uncontrollable muscle twitching. Patients having frontal lobe seizures may make irregular kicking movements or leg movements similar to riding a bicycle, due to the over-stimulation of certain muscle control centers in the brain. Epilepsy.com indicates that frontal lobe epilepsy can run in families, with affected individuals experiencing seizures while they sleep 1. Frontal lobe epilepsy is commonly controlled with medication, but may require surgery for severe cases of epilepsy 1.
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- Epilepsy.com: Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
- Kaplan PW. Epilepsy and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2010;12(2):241-8. doi:20623928
- National Institutes of Health. Obsessive compulsive disorder. Updated November 2017.
- National Institutes of Health. The epilepsies and seizures: hope through research. Updated January 19, 2020.
- Trimble M. Treatment issues for personality disorders in epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2013;54(1):41-5. doi:10.1111/epi.12104
- Bird JS, Shah E, Shotbolt P. Epilepsy and concomitant obsessive-compulsive disorder. Epilepsy Behav Case Rep. 2018;10:106-110. doi:10.1016/j.ebcr.2018.07.001
- Barry JJ, Huynh N. "Psychotropic drug use in patients with epilepsy and developmental disabilities". In: Devinsky O and Westbrook LE, (eds). Epilepsy and Developmental Disabilities. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2001; 205-217.
- Kaplan PW. Obsessive-compulsive disorder in chronic epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav. 2011;22(3):428-32. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2011.07.029
- Monaco F, Cavanna A, Magli E, et al. Obsessionality, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav. 2005;7(3):491-6. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2005.07.003
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.