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Psychosomatics. 2016 Sep-Oct;57(5):445-64. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2016.05.005. Epub 2016 May 16.

Frontal Lobe Epilepsy: A Primer for Psychiatrists and a Systematic Review of Psychiatric Manifestations.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA. Electronic address:
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.



Frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) can masquerade as a primary psychiatric condition, be misdiagnosed in-lieu of a true psychiatric disorder, or may be comorbid with psychiatric illness.


To (1) qualitatively review psychiatric manifestations of FLE and (2) to systematically review the cases/case series of psychiatric manifestations of FLE presented in the literature to date.


A systematic review of the literature was performed following the PRISMA guidelines and using PubMed/Medline, PsychInfo, and Cochrane database of systematic reviews to identify cases and case series of psychiatric manifestations of FLE.


A total of 35 separate articles were identified. Further, 17 patients primarily presented with psychosis, 33 with affective symptoms, and 16 with personality changes. Also, 62% of cases were males and 38% were females. Ages ranged from 2-83 years with the average age of 32.7. Prior psychiatric history was reported in 27.3% of cases. Causes of seizure were known in 53%, with the most common causes being dysplasia and tumor. Only 6 cases (<10%) did not have electroencephalographic correlations. Psychiatric manifestations were primarily ictal in 74.3% of the cases. Associated manifestations included motor (63.6%), cognitive (34.8%), and medical (9.0%) findings. Surgery was required in 31.8% of the cases, whereas others were treated with medications alone. All, but 3, patients were seizure free and saw an improvement in symptoms with treatment.


Given the complexity and multifunctionality of the frontal lobes, FLE can present with complex, psychiatric manifestations, with associated motor, cognitive, and medical changes; thus, psychiatrists should keep FLE on the differential diagnosis of complex neuropsychiatric cases.


behavior; epilepsy; frontal lobe; mood; neuropsychiatry.; seizures

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