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Reflex seizures and reflex epilepsy.

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Department of Neurology, Albany Medical Center Albany, New York 12208, USA.


Reflex seizures are evoked by a specific afferent stimulus or by activity of the patient and are divided into those characterized by generalized seizures and those principally manifested by focal seizures. Reflex epilepsies are syndromes in which all epileptic seizures are precipitated by sensory stimuli. Three categories of reflex seizures encountered clinically include pure reflex epilepsies, reflex seizures that occur in generalized or focal epilepsy syndromes that are also associated with spontaneous seizures, and isolated reflex seizures occurring in situations that do not necessarily require a diagnosis of epilepsy. Generalized reflex seizures are precipitated by visual light stimulation, thinking, and decision making. These seizures usually respond to valproate treatment. Numerous triggers can induce focal reflex seizures. The triggers include reading, writing, other language functions, startle, somatosensory stimulation, proprioception, auditory stimuli, immersion in hot water, eating, and vestibular stimulation. The classification and characteristics of reflex seizures and epilepsies are described in this review. Findings on EEG and advanced neuroimaging in the reflex seizures and epilepsies, treatment and preventive options, and animal models and mechanisms are also discussed.

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