Motor and somatosensory conversion disorder: a functional unawareness syndrome?

J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2012 Spring;24(2):141-51. doi: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.11050110.


Although conversion disorder is closely connected to the origins of neurology and psychiatry, it remains poorly understood. In this article, the authors discuss neural and clinical parallels between lesional unawareness disorders and unilateral motor and somatosensory conversion disorder, emphasizing functional neuroimaging/disease correlates. Authors suggest that a functional-unawareness neurobiological framework, mediated by right hemisphere-lateralized, large-scale brain network dysfunction, may play a significant role in the neurobiology of conversion disorder. The perigenual anterior cingulate and the posterior parietal cortices are detailed as important in disease pathophysiology. Further investigations will refine the functional-unawareness concept, clarify the role of affective circuits, and delineate the process through which functional neurologic symptoms emerge.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Conversion Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Functional Neuroimaging / methods
  • Functional Neuroimaging / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Somatosensory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Syndrome