Send to

Choose Destination
Epilepsy Behav. 2014 Jan;30:17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.09.012. Epub 2013 Oct 6.

Alteration of consciousness in focal epilepsy: the global workspace alteration theory.

Author information

INSERM, U1106, Institut de Neuroscience des Systèmes, Marseille F-13005, France; Aix Marseille Université, Faculté de Médecine, Marseille F-13005, France; CHU Timone, Service de Neurophysiologie Clinique, Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Marseille, Marseille F-13005, France. Electronic address:


Alteration of consciousness (AOC) is an important clinical manifestation of partial seizures that greatly impacts the quality of life of patients with epilepsy. Several theories have been proposed in the last fifty years. An emerging concept in neurology is the global workspace (GW) theory that postulates that access to consciousness (from several sensorial modalities) requires transient coordinated activity from associative cortices, in particular the prefrontal cortex and the posterior parietal associative cortex. Several lines of evidence support the view that partial seizures alter consciousness through disturbance of the GW. In particular, a nonlinear relation has been shown between excess of synchronization in the GW regions and the degree of AOC. Changes in thalamocortical synchrony occurring during the spreading of the ictal activity seem particularly involved in the mechanism of altered consciousness. This link between abnormal synchrony and AOC offers new perspectives in the treatment of the AOC since means of decreasing consciousness alteration in seizures could improve patients' quality of life.


Consciousness; Global workspace; Parietal epilepsy; Stereoelectroencephalography; Synchrony; Temporal lobe epilepsy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center