Understanding psychogenic nonepileptic seizures-Phenomenology, semiology and the Integrative Cognitive Model

Seizure. 2017 Jan:44:199-205. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2016.10.029. Epub 2016 Nov 15.


Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures (PNES) are one of the commonest differential diagnoses of epilepsy. This paper provides a narrative review of what has been learnt in the last 25 years regarding the visible manifestations, physiological features, subjective experiences and interactional aspects of PNES. We then explore how current insights into PNES semiology and phenomenology map onto the Integrative Cognitive Model (ICM), a new account of these phenomena that unifies previous approaches within a single explanatory framework. We discuss to what extent recent psychological and neurophysiological research is consistent with the ICM and indicate how the more detailed analysis of physiological data, connectivity analyses of EEG and functional or structural MRI data may provide greater insights into the biopsychosocial underpinnings of a disabling and under-researched disorder.

Keywords: Aetiology; Cognition; Electroencephalography; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Conversion Disorder* / complications
  • Conversion Disorder* / etiology
  • Conversion Disorder* / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy* / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy* / etiology
  • Epilepsy* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders*
  • Somatoform Disorders / complications