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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 24, Issue 1, Pages 35-41

Brain Mechanisms of Altered Consciousness in Focal Seizures

Andrew P. Bagshaw1,2 and Andrea E. Cavanna3,4

1School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
2Birmingham University Imaging Centre, Birmingham, UK
3Department of Neuropsychiatry, University of Birmingham and BSMHFT, Birmingham, UK
4Institute of Neurology, UCL, London, UK

Received 23 March 2011; Accepted 23 March 2011

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Consciousness is a central concept in epileptology, relevant to the understanding of both focal and generalized seizures. Within focal seizures, impairment of consciousness has long been considered as the main criterion differentiating complex partial seizures (CPS) from simple partial seizures With the development of improved tools for investigating human brain function, new insights into the brain mechanisms of altered consciousness in CPS have become available. This paper reviews the existing literature on how the currently available methods can be used to address the fundamental issue of how CPS alter consciousness.