The role of the limbic system in experiential phenomena of temporal lobe epilepsy

Ann Neurol. 1982 Aug;12(2):129-44. doi: 10.1002/ana.410120203.


Experiential phenomena occurring in spontaneous seizures or evoked by brain stimulation were reported by 18 of 29 patients with medically intractable temporal lobe epilepsy who were investigated with chronic, stereotaxically implanted intracerebral electrodes. The phenomena mainly consisted of perceptual (visual or auditory) hallucinations or illusions, memory flashbacks, illusions of familiarity, forced thinking, or emotions. Experiential phenomena did not occur unless a seizure discharge or electrical stimulation involved limbic structures. For such phenomena to occur, seizure discharge or electrical stimulation did not have to implicate temporal neocortex. This was true even for perceptual experiential phenomena. Many experiential responses elicited by electrical stimulation, particularly when applied to the amygdala, were not associated with electrical afterdischarge. Limbic activation by seizure discharge or electrical stimulation may add an affective dimension to perceptual and mnemonic data processed by the temporal neocortex, which may be required for endowing them with experiential immediacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / psychology
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / physiopathology*
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology