Physiology of Human Photosensitivity

Epilepsia. 2004;45 Suppl 1:7-13. doi: 10.1111/j.0013-9580.2004.451009.x.


Human epileptic photosensitivity has been studied in several ways. (a) Visual stimulation that resembles the stimulation normally responsible for seizures, such as that from televisions or videogames, both of which typically use cathode ray tubes in which the display is created in a flickering pattern. Such stimulation is often rendered yet more epileptogenic by programmes with content that also involves flashing or patterned material. (b) Elementary visual stimuli that enable inferences to be drawn concerning the physiological trigger mechanisms. The topographic distribution of epileptiform EEG activity in response to such stimuli has complemented this approach, leading to the inference that the trigger is cortical and requires sychronised mass action of neurons. (c) Stimuli that avoid paroxysmal EEG activity and permit an investigation of the subepileptic response to visual stimuli, using the evoked potential. This has revealed abnormalities in the cortical mechanisms that control the response to strong visual stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epilepsy, Reflex / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / adverse effects*