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Simple partial seizure
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 G401
ICD-9 345.5
eMedicine neuro/342
MeSH D004828

Simple partial seizures are seizures which affect only a small region of the brain, often the temporal lobes or hippocampi. People who have simple partial seizures retain consciousness.[1] Simple partial seizures are often precursors to larger seizures, where the abnormal electrical activity spreads to a larger area of (or all of) the brain, usually resulting in a complex partial seizure or a tonic-clonic seizure.[2] In this case they are often known as an aura.


Simple partial seizures are a very subjective experience, and the symptoms of a simple partial seizure vary greatly between people. This is due to the varying locations of the brain the seizures originate in e.g.: Rolandic. A simple partial seizure may go unnoticed by others or shrugged off by the sufferer as merely a "funny turn". Simple partial seizures usually start suddenly and are very brief.[3] It is unusual for them to occur in isolation as they usually lead to other forms of partial seizure.[3]

While awake some common symptoms of simple partial seizures are:[1]

  • preserved consciousness
  • sudden and inexplicable feelings of fear, anger, sadness, happiness or nausea
  • sensations of falling or movement
  • experiencing of unusual feelings or sensations
  • altered sense of hearing, smelling, tasting, seeing, and tactile perception (sensory illusions or hallucinations), or feeling as though the environment is not real (derealization) or dissociation from the environment or self (depersonalization)
  • a sense of spatial distortion—things close by may appear to be at a distance.
  • déjà vu (familiarity) or jamais vu (unfamiliarity)
  • laboured speech or inability to speak at all
  • usually the event is remembered in detail

When the seizure occurs during sleep, the person will often become semi-conscious and act out a dream while engaging with the environment as normal, and objects and people usually appear normal or only slightly distorted, being able to communicate with them on an otherwise normal level. However, since the person is acting in a dream-like state, they will assimilate any hallucinations or delusions into their communication, often speaking to a hallucinatory person or speaking of events or thoughts normally pertaining to a dream or other hallucination.

While asleep symptoms include:

  • onset usually in REM sleep
  • dream like state
  • appearance of full consciousness
  • hallucinations or delusions
  • behavior or visions typical in dreams
  • ability to engage with the environment and other people as in full consciousness, though often behaving abnormally, erratically, or failing to be coherent
  • complete amnesia or assimilating the memory as though it was a normal dream on regaining full consciousness

Although hallucinations may occur during simple partial seizures they are differentiated from psychotic symptoms by the fact that the person is usually aware that the hallucinations are not real.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Simple Partial Seizures. Epilepsy Foundation.
  2. Partial (focal) seizure. MedlinePlus.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hart, YM (2007). Epilepsy Questions and Answers, Merit Publishing.


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