A temporal lobe seizure starts in the brain's temporal lobes, the areas responsible for emotion processing and short-term memory encoding. The symptoms of this type of seizure are often related to the temporal lobe's normal functions. Patients may experience strange feelings without any external reason, such as fear, deja vu, or euphoria. Some individuals are aware of what is happening during the seizures, though intense seizures can cause some to be unresponsive. The cause of these seizures is often unknown, though they sometimes arise because of a defect or scarring in the temporal lobe. Treatments include medication, and some patients may benefit from surgery if medication doesn't work.
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Strange Sensory Experiences
Temporal lobe seizures that don't involve a loss of cognition have also been called focal seizures with retained awareness. They can often present with strange sensory information. Patients may experience a strange or sudden odor or taste they can't explain. They may also see things that aren't there. The strange sensory experiences may inform the odd emotional experiences and vice versa. With sensory focal seizures, the patient experiences vivid sensations with their senses. They might see colors and lights, hear sounds like buzzing, or feel like part of their body is tingling or numb. These types of seizures are often called sensory seizures. Unlike traditionally presenting temporal lobe seizures, they consist only or almost exclusively of sensory experiences, rather than unusual emotions.
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Unprovoked Joy Or Fear
The temporal lobe helps individuals regulate and process their emotions. During a seizure, abnormal electrical activity causes the neurons to fire strange, nonsensical impulses, leading to odd emotions. Patients often describe feelings of unprovoked joy or fear in relation to temporal lobe seizures. Fear is common, and some patients have described the experience as akin to religious awe. It's also possible to feel sadness or anger. There may also be the physical sensations associated with certain emotions. Some people feel strange upsets in their stomach that seem to herald dread or excitement. Temporal lobe seizures often start with 'auras,' which are strange feelings or visions. Those who have auras can learn to recognize them as seizure warning signs.
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Deja Vu Experience
It's common for patients having temporal lobe seizures to experience an overpowering feeling of deja vu. They get the sensation the current moment has happened before. This can also be a warning sign of further seizure activity, and individuals can learn to notice it. Noticing early warning signs is especially helpful for those who lose awareness during more serious seizures. Though there's not an exact explanation for how the feeling of deja vu is manufactured by the brain, it's likely the sensation is related to short-term memory. The temporal lobe encodes and stores short-term memories. These are the recollections of things that happened very recently. They haven't yet been transmitted to the long-term memory. Misfiring energy in the memory processing center of the brain might lead to the feeling of experiencing memories again.
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During temporal lobe seizures where patients retain awareness, they're generally able to respond when others speak to them. However, temporal lobe seizures can impair their ability to respond to others or observe them. There's a loss of awareness of the surrounding world. These seizures typically last between thirty seconds and two minutes. During the seizure, the patient may move their muscles in unusual, purposeless ways. There may be unusual movements in the fingers like picking motions or repetitive motions. Patients may also smack their lips and repeatedly swallow or chew on nothing. These movements are accompanied by staring and a lack of response to external stimuli.
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Loss Of Awareness
Loss of awareness sometimes occurs during more serious seizure activity. There are two main types of temporal lobe seizures: those with retained awareness, and those with impaired awareness. When patients retain their awareness, they don't experience any of the lack of cognition or strange movements that occur during an impaired awareness seizure. They'll be able to respond to others and have a general understanding of who they are. But when awareness is lost, patients will look like they're awake, except they'll stare vacantly instead of focusing on anything. They may be unresponsive for between thirty seconds and two minutes. As a general rule, if any seizure lasts longer than five minutes, someone should call an ambulance. But if the patient regularly experiences impaired awareness seizures in the temporal lobe, a normal-length episode doesn't require medical intervention. Rather than calling emergency services, individuals should talk to the patient when they 'wake up' again, explaining what happened and helping with the disorientation.