Epilepsy Syndromes

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

temporal lobeThe temporal lobes, one on each side of the head, just above the ears, are the sites of one of the most common forms of epilepsy. Complex partial seizures with automatisms (unconscious actions), such as lip smacking or rubbing the hands together, are the most common seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy.

Seventy-five percent of patients also experience simple partial seizures which may include such features as: a mixture of thoughts, emotions, and feelings that are hard to describe; sudden emergence of old memories or feelings of strangeness in familiar surroundings; hallucinations of voices, music, smells, or tastes, and feelings of unusual fear or joy. While partial seizures dominate, approximately half the people with temporal lobe epilepsy have generalized tonic-clonic seizures as well.

The seizures characteristic of temporal lobe epilepsy often begin in the deeper parts of the temporal lobe (part of the limbic system) which control emotions and memory. Memory problems may develop over time in people with this syndrome. Treatment is with medication or surgery, or in some cases, VNS therapy.