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J Affect Disord. 2019 Feb 1;244:46-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.10.004. Epub 2018 Oct 5.

Subjective and physiological response to emotions in temporal lobe epilepsy and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.

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Laboratoire Parole et Langage UMR 7309, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France. Electronic address:
Service d'explorations fonctionnelles du système nerveux, Clinique du sommeil, CHU de Bordeaux, Place Amélie Raba-Léon, Bordeaux 33076, France; USR CNRS 3413 SANPSY, CHU Pellegrin, Université de Bordeaux, France.
National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Timone Neuroscience Institute (INT, UMR 7289), Marseille, France; Department of Neurosciences, Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France.
Service de Neurophysiologie Clinique, Centre Hospitalo Universitaire de la Timone, 264, rue Saint-Pierre, Marseille 13005, France; Aix Marseille University, Inserm, INS, Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes, Marseille, France.
Laboratoire Parole et Langage UMR 7309, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France.



Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) are conditions frequently associated with dysfunction in emotional regulation leading to increased risk of affective disorders. This study investigates emotional processing with an objective measure of emotional reactivity in patients with TLE and patients with PNES.


34 patients with TLE and 14 patients with PNES were evaluated on skin conductance responses (SCR) to emotions induced by short films and compared to 34 healthy controls. An attention and a suppression condition were performed while viewing the films.


The both groups of patients disclosed lower SCR to emotions compared to controls, mainly in suppression condition. While TLE patients had lower SCR in attention condition than controls for fear, sadness and happiness, PNES had lower SCR only for happiness. In suppression condition, both had lower SCR than controls except for peacefulness in both groups and sadness in PNES. Subjective evaluations revealed that both patient's groups scored a higher intensity for sadness than controls in attention and lower for in fear and disgust in suppression only in TLE.


The sample size in the PNES group and the lack of a control group with similar levels of mood symptoms limited the interpretation of our results.


As no correlation were found between SCR to emotions and scores of affective disorders, this pattern of responses might be underpinned by specific pathophysiological and cognitive mechanisms related to TLE and to PNES. Thus, therapeutic approaches targeting emotional autonomic responses can be of interest in the management of these conditions.


Emotional regulation; Psychiatric comorbidities; Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures; Skin conductance responses; Temporal lobe epilepsy

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