Ictal cognitive assessment of partial seizures and pseudoseizures

William L. Bell, Yong D. Park, Elizabeth A. Thompson, Rodney A. Radtke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies suggest that responsiveness is impaired during complex partial seizures (CPS) and pseudoseizures (PS); however, to our knowledge, there has been no systematic comparison using both response and memory testing. Objective: To compare CPS with PS using ictal cognitive assessment (ICA) of responsiveness and memory. Patients and Methods: We used a nonautomated method of ICA by bedside observers, consisting of family members and staff, during video electroencephalographic monitoring to test responsiveness and memory during the ictal phase in 245 events. We assessed the adequacy of testing and compared the testing results in 31 patients during CPS and 13 patients during PS. Results: The ictal presentation of a command was successful in 58% of the events. The ictal presentation of at least 2 memory items with testing for recall after orientation was adequate in 57% of events. Impaired responsiveness was shown during both CPS and PS. However, some response was detected during 48% of PS compared with 18% of CPS (P<01). Memory items were recalled during 63% of PS but during only 4% of CPS (P<.001). The International Classification of Epileptic Seizures remained useful, but in 11 events (8%), distinguishing complex from simple partial seizures was difficult. Recall of various types of stimuli (aural-verbal vs visual-pictorial) during ICA did not correlate with the side or location of the seizure focus, but this may have been confounded by the rarity of any memory recall during CPS. Conclusions: Ictal cognitive assessment by bedside observers is practical and provides the interaction necessary for properly classifying seizures; ICA, especially memory, may help to distinguish CPS from PS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1456-1459
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Neurology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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