Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: A Clinical and Pathophysiological Review

Biomed Res Int. 2016:2016:8243145. doi: 10.1155/2016/8243145. Epub 2016 Dec 27.


Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS) is a perceptual disorder, principally involving visual and somesthetic integration, firstly reported by Todd, on the literary suggestion of the strange experiences described by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland books. Symptoms may comprise among others aschematia and dysmetropsia. This syndrome has many different etiologies; however EBV infection is the most common cause in children, while migraine affects more commonly adults. Many data support a strict relationship between migraine and AIWS, which could be considered in many patients as an aura or a migraine equivalent, particularly in children. Nevertheless, AIWS seems to have anatomical correlates. According to neuroimaging, temporoparietal-occipital carrefour (TPO-C) is a key region for developing many of AIWS symptoms. The final part of this review aims to find the relationship between AIWS symptoms, presenting a pathophysiological model. In brief, AIWS symptoms depend on an alteration of TPO-C where visual-spatial and somatosensory information are integrated. Alterations in these brain regions may cause the cooccurrence of dysmetropsia and disorders of body schema. In our opinion, the association of other symptoms reported in literature could vary depending on different etiologies and the lack of clear diagnostic criteria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alice in Wonderland Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Alice in Wonderland Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Alice in Wonderland Syndrome / psychology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Hallucinations / diagnosis
  • Hallucinations / physiopathology*
  • Hallucinations / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Illusions / psychology
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology*
  • Symptom Assessment / methods