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Epilepsy Behav. 2014 Jan;30:58-61.

Ictal alterations of consciousness during ecstatic seizures.

Abstract

Patients with ecstatic epileptic seizures report an altered consciousness, which they describe as a sense of heightened perception of themselves – they “feel very present” – and an increased vividness of sensory perceptions. Recently, the anterior insula has been proposed as the region where these seizures originate, based on the results of ictal nuclear imaging in three patients, the first induction of ecstatic auras by electrical stimulation, and the functional characteristics of the anterior insula in neuroimaging literature. Specifically, the anterior insula is thought to play a key role in integrating information from within the body, the external world, as well as the emotional states. In addition, the anterior insula is thought to convert this integrated information into successive global emotional moments, thus enabling both the construct of a sentient self as well as a mechanism for predictive coding. As part of the salience network, this region is also involved in switching from mind wandering toward attentional and executive processing. In this review, we will summarize previous patient reports and recap how insular functioning may be involved in the phenomenon of ecstatic seizures. Furthermore, we will relate these hypotheses to the results from research on meditation and effects of drug abuse.

PMID:
24436968
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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