Focal Dyscognitive Seizures

(formerly complex partial seizures or psychomotor seizures)

A focal dyscognitive seizure does not involve convulsions, but it does impair awareness or consciousness. During the seizure, the person may be unable to respond to questions.

Focal dyscognitive seizures can begin in different regions or brain networks. For a given individual, seizures will be similar each time because the same brain region(s) are often involved.

A common brain region where focal seizures can originate is the temporal lobe. During a focal dyscognitive seizure origininating from this brain region, the person stops and may have a blank look or empty stare. S/he will appear unaware of the environment and may seem dazed. The individual may manifest any of the following “inappropriate” automatic behaviours:

  • chewing movements
  • uncoordinated activity
  • meaningless bits of behaviour that appear random and clumsy including
    • picking at their clothes or trying to remove them
    • walking about aimlessly
    • picking up things
    • mumbling.

A focal dyscognitive seizure usually lasts about two to four minutes. After the seizure, there is usually a period of confusion.

First Aid
  • Supervise the person and gently guide him/her away from potential danger
  • Do not restrain the person since s/he may instinctively lash out or become highly agitated.
  • Comfort the person during and following the seizure.
  • Remain with the person until full awareness returns.