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Epilepsy Behav. 2012 May;24(1):107-15. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2012.03.018. Epub 2012 Apr 19.

Emotion in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: responses to affective pictures.

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Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arizona State University, Glendale, AZ 85306, USA.


We examined emotional responses to standard affective pictures in 18 psychogenic nonepileptic seizure (PNES) patients. Given reports of trauma and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTS) in many PNES patients, comparison groups were seizure-free individuals high and low in PTS (PTS-high, PTS-low; n=18 per group). Patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (1) reported more emotional intensity to neutral and pleasant pictures than PTS-low and more intensity to neutral pictures than PTS-high, and (2) showed less positive emotional behavior to pleasant pictures than PTS-high. Groups did not differ in pleasantness/unpleasantness ratings, negative emotional behavior, cardiac interbeat interval, or respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) reactivity to the pictures. Patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures reported more general emotion regulation difficulties and showed lower baseline RSA than PTS-low but not PTS-high. In sum, intense emotional experience and diminished positive emotional behavior characterized PNES patients' emotional responses.

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