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BMJ Case Rep. 2017 Dec 13;2017. pii: bcr-2017-222444. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2017-222444.

Intermittent catatonia and complex automatisms caused by frontal lobe epilepsy in dementia.

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University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division, Oxford, UK.
Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK.


An 82-year-old man was admitted to the emergency department following bizarre behaviour. Police had noticed him driving erratically through his village. He did not stop when instructed, drove slowly home and appeared 'vacant' on questioning. While in hospital, he had approximately 15 episodes of catatonia, involving rigidity, negativism, mutism except echolalia and perseveration, automatic obedience and utilisation phenomena, lasting 2-20 min each. Between episodes, he was amnestic but otherwise well. Electroencephalography demonstrated bifrontal slowing with left-sided emphasis, and captured two focal onset partial seizures with the clinical correlate of the syndrome described above. He improved rapidly on levetiracetam and lorazepam, was discharged and received a diagnosis of dementia by his community mental health team shortly afterwards, based on chronic short-term memory loss, functional decline and MRI changes. This case has implications for our understanding of the neural correlate of catatonia, specifically frontal lobe pathway dysfunction.


epilepsy and seizures; psychotic disorders (incl schizophrenia)

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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