The "sensed presence": an epileptic aura with religious overtones

Epilepsy Behav. 2006 Aug;9(1):186-8. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2006.04.023. Epub 2006 Jun 6.


"Sensed presence," a religious emotion, has been the focus of recent neurotheological research because it has been claimed that weak transcranial magnetic stimulation can evoke such experiences. Some researchers have recently questioned this claim. However, religion and epilepsy have been linked through history, clinical observations, and research. This article describes the "sensed presence" as an aura in one patient who did not interpret his experience in a religious way. He had bilateral hypoperfusion of the temporal lobes when investigated by SPECT, and hypoplasia of the dorsal part of the left hippocampus when examined by magnetic resonance imaging. This case report illustrates that "sensed presence" can occur as an epileptic aura with or without religious interpretation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Epilepsy / diagnostic imaging
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hallucinations / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Religion
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon