Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Seizure and epilepsy description

Seizure and epilepsy description
Hello everybody. My name is Sara Mondini and I am a teacher of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Padova. This course focuses on epilepsy and its effects on cognition. Let’s begin with an overview of this neurological disorder. To understand epilepsy. It is important to review the difference between epilepsy and seizure. A seizure is the brief temporary disturbance in the electrical activity of the brain. Seizures are symptoms of epilepsy. However, having a seizure does not necessarily mean that the person has epilepsy. There are other causes of seizures including high fever, kidney failure or lack of oxygen in the brain. Epilepsy is a generic term used to define a variety of disorders characterised by recurring seizures.
A diagnosis of epilepsy means that the person has an underlying condition such as brain injury that affects the delicate systems which govern the electrical energy in the brain, causing possible recurring seizures. Epilepsy is not contagious, You cannot catch epilepsy from someone else and nobody can catch it from you. Many misconceptions surround epilepsy and sometimes people inadvertently contribute to the negative image of the disorder using a wrong language. Like all individuals with a disability, persons with epilepsy dislike labels.
Such as: He is an epileptic. Epilepsy is a condition that the person has, not what a person is.
So, the preferred terminology is: person with epilepsy. Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder defined by recurring, unprovoked seizures. Seizures are brief periods of altered behaviour accompanied by paroxysmal electrical activity. Abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. Normally brain electrical activity is non-synchronous. In epileptic seizures, due to problems within the brain, a group of neurones begins firing in an abnormal excessive and synchronised manner. This results in a wave of depolarisation, known as a paroxysmal depolarising shift. Epileptic syndromes are characterised by a cluster of symptoms and signs that co-occur.
They can be categorised on the basis of: Seizure type, aetiology, age at onset of seizures, Precipitating factors, severity, electro-graphic findings and prognoses. Only a doctor can say for certain whether or not a person has epilepsy. But many people miss the more subtle signs of the condition. Therefore, they also miss the opportunity for early diagnosis and treatment. Learning about epilepsy early and working to control seizures can often help to minimise the impact of the disorder.
These symptoms include: periods of blackout or confused memory. Occasional spells in which bladder or bowel control is lost, followed by extreme fatigue. Fainting is when you lose consciousness for a short time because your brain is not getting enough oxygen. The medical term for fainting is syncope but it is commonly known as passing out. A fainting spell generally lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. Other symptoms can be episodes of blank staring, especially in children, brief periods where there is no response to questions or instructions sudden falls for no apparent reasons, episodes of blinking or chewing at an appropriate time, a convulsion with or without fever, cluster of swift jerking movements in babies.
These symptoms are not necessarily indicators of epilepsy and do not include all of the symptoms of seizures. These symptoms may be caused by some other unrelated conditions. However, if one or more present a medical checkup is recommended.

An explanation of what epilepsy is, from both a neural and a behavioural point of view.

The video provides a definition of epilepsy and outlines the difference between this disorder and a single seizure. Afterwards, the neural abnormal substrate of epilepsy is dealt with. Some criteria are also highlighted useful to make a distinction among different typologies of epileptic syndromes and understand their nature. The video ends with a brief description of some of the major symptoms of a disorder characterized by seizures.

This article is from the free online

Understanding Epilepsy and its Neuropsychology

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now