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Do some Photosensitive epileptics desire seizures?

Do some Photosensitive epileptics desire seizures?

It seems absurd, but from the Wikipedia article on Photosensitive Epilepsy:

Some PSE patients, especially children, may exhibit an uncontrollable fascination with television images that trigger seizures, to such an extent that it may be necessary to physically keep them away from television sets. Some patients (particularly those with cognitive impairments, although most PSE patients have no such impairments) self-induce seizures by waving their fingers in front of their eyes in front of bright light or by other means.

Wikipedia fails to give a citation as to the existence or commonality of this, but it still strikes me as odd.

Have any studies (case studies or preferably experimental results) validated that some PSE patients want or enjoy seizures? Is there some attraction to the causes of these seizures in the patients that causes this behavior?


The article I found goes into the general phenomenon of seizure self-induction, but does spend quite a bit of time on photosensitive epilepsy (PSE). It's a review, so there are plenty of references.

It first points out the prevalence of PSE, which occurs in between 2-5% of the population, and approximately 25% of those affected by the disorder are thought to self-stimulate.

The article supports the assertion on Wikipedia that developmentally challenged and "learning disabled" children are most prone to these self-inductive behaviors, but states that children of normal intelligence and higher may have developed strategies to avoid getting caught doing so during recorded sessions. It does not go into much depth regarding adults self-inducing, but tacitly assumes that adults of normal intelligence would be more likely to understand the harm that a seizure could bring them.

There is support for the notion that children with television induced seizures do try to seek out televisions for this self-stimulation behavior, but the article cautions that this compulsive behavior may be associated with the seizure activity itself, and not something the patients are consciously doing, many describe it as "irresistable."

The article lists a handful of reasons that are commonly thought to promote self-induction:

  • Compulsion - whether for pleasure seeking or as a result of seizure activity
  • Willful avoidance of stress or boredom
  • Hedonistic motivation - to experience an "aura"/trance or other pleasurable feelings
  • Sense of control - so they can have a "say" over when their seizures occur, and also so that they can reap the benefits of the refractory period
  • Attention seeking - being the "sick patient" for sympathetic family members
  • Self-treatment - the patient can give themselves a dose of "convulsive therapy" at will, if this gives them therapeutic relief of concomitant disorders

Stronger doses of anticonvulsant medications, medications to quell any pleasurable reinforcement gained from inducing seizures, specialized contact lenses or glasses to block more light (in the case of PSE), and general behavioral modification strategies are all treatment approaches that can be used. Emphasis is given to knowing when children are self-inducing and involving a psychiatrist in the loop of neurological and pediatric care.

Ng, B-Y (2002) Psychiatric aspects of self-induced epileptic seizures. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry,36:534-543.


Treating psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Imagine what it’s like to suffer from seizures that can strike anytime, anywhere. Imagine losing your driver’s license, job and social life because of seizures that seem to be uncontrollable. Imagine the emotional turmoil that ensues as these seizures take over more and more of what you once enjoyed, considered necessary or maybe even took for granted.

Now imagine your neurologist or epileptologist telling you there is no medical reason for your condition. The seizures have a psychological origin and are your brain’s way of coping with emotional stress. Unlike what your primary care physician told you, your condition isn’t epilepsy, meaning all those drugs you’re taking to treat epilepsy are absolutely worthless.

Finally, imagine dealing with the skepticism of your family and friends now that they know these seizures are “all in your head — the doctor even said so.” This is a snapshot of what it is like for people who suffer from psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES).

It was a Tuesday afternoon at my clinic, one of the week’s two “walk-in” days in which both regular and new clients could see a clinician without an appointment. On this particular day, a young woman in her 20s (I’ll call her Charleen) walked in, trembling and barely able to speak. All our clinicians were busy, but the receptionist told her that if she had a seat, someone would be with her shortly. The front office staff said she seemed slightly disoriented and not fully able to explain why she was in our office or who had referred her.

After I finished another client’s session, I walked into the waiting room and introduced myself. Charleen made no eye contact, and about a minute into our conversation, she told me she had to leave and return home to “take her dogs out.” She assured me that she would be back, however. Later that day, she called the office and made an appointment with me for the following week.

During that appointment, Charleen told me she had been suffering from PNES and anxiety, and that a local mental health agency had referred her for those conditions. She had left so abruptly the day she walked in because she was on the verge of having a seizure episode and didn’t want to have it in my office. She then tearfully proceeded to tell me about her life, and losses, with PNES, which included the experiences mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Although I was aware of PNES, I had never worked with anyone diagnosed with the condition. With more than 20 years of experience as a licensed counselor, however, I had extensive experience with clients struggling with anxiety. There were no other places that worked with PNES within a reasonable distance for Charleen, so I agreed to become her counselor. I began reading everything I could get my hands on related to PNES, starting with Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures: A Guide, by Lorna Myers, and even attended an online training given by Myers.

My work with Charleen progressed nicely, and I began to contact other referral sources in my area for more PNES cases. The treatments I used were bringing impressive results to a condition that, as I found out later, many clinicians feared. As the successes continued, I contacted Myers, director of the PNES Treatment Program and the Clinical Neuropsychology Program at the Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group in New York, to be placed on the national referral registry for PNES. Given the dearth of providers for PNES, I began getting referrals from other states. My zeal for working with PNES sufferers has continued to grow since that time.

Although the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not include the acronym PNES, it does describe the condition as a conversion disorder (functional neurological symptom disorder) “with attacks or seizures” (F44.5). Professionals treating the condition most often use the acronym PNES, but NEAD (nonepileptic attack disorder) is also used on occasion.

The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for psychogenic seizures include “altered voluntary motor or sensory function” that do not have a medical or neurological origin and are “not better explained by another medical or mental disorder” and that cause “clinically significant distress” in all facets of life. The term pseudo-seizures is often used to describe this condition. This is inaccurate, however, because there is nothing fake (or pseudo) about these seizures. PNES is not the same as malingering (looking for secondary gain) or factitious disorder (an attraction to being ill). Individuals who experience PNES subjectively believe and feel that they do not have control over their condition.

Several tests can help rule out seizures with a medical origin. The gold standard for diagnosing PNES, however, is the video EEG, a test that measures brain waves. During a video EEG, the person is admitted to an inpatient facility and observed for an extended period of time (generally multiple days). Whenever a seizure occurs, the brain’s electrical activity is analyzed. When a seizure has a medical origin, the EEG will display abnormal brain wave activity. In the case of PNES, brain wave activity remains unchanged during the seizure. Currently, this is the only way to reliably diagnose PNES.

In some cases, individuals who suffer from psychogenic seizures may also have epilepsy or experience other medically oriented seizures. In their paper “Defining psychogenic non-epileptic seizures,” Selim Benbadis and Valerie Kelley write that “about 10 percent of patients with PNES also have epilepsy.”

Traumatic experiences and treatment options

In most cases, sufferers of psychogenic seizures have endured at least one significant traumatic experience in their past, often including sexual victimization. Whatever the traumatic experience may be, psychogenic seizures are believed to serve as a psychological shut-off valve of sorts when sufferers become emotionally distressed. The stress may be due to external circumstances (e.g., social anxiety, job stress) or internal stimuli (e.g., flashbacks from traumatic experiences, hallucinations). It is common for PNES to occur comorbidly with other psychiatric conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative disorders and anxiety disorders.

What can counselors do to help those suffering from psychogenic seizures? There are several treatment options to consider.

Psychoeducation: Psychoeducation is extremely important for those suffering from PNES because many of the clients who seek counseling do so only after years of unsuccessful treatment for epilepsy or other medically oriented conditions. They are typically referred to counseling after finally being successfully diagnosed by an epileptologist or neurologist but still may not have a proper understanding of how something that seems to have a medical origin is actually psychological in nature. Proper education for clients and their loved ones will help minimize the confusion and stigma that are often associated with this condition.

Journaling and mindful awareness: This phase of treatment involves clients learning two vital exercises: keeping a seizure journal and mindful awareness.

Before individuals become incapacitated by psychogenic seizures, they generally report a variety of prodromal symptoms, including trembling, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. The typical response one feels when a seizure is approaching is to become more anxious. This response is logical, especially considering the havoc and disruption the seizures have caused in the person’s life previously. However, an increase in stress is exactly what makes psychogenic seizures more likely to occur (stress and anxiety typically activate the seizure to begin with). Therefore, learning how to be mindful of prodromal symptoms is vital for the person to do what is necessary to avoid progression to a full-blown seizure — namely, by practicing anxiety and stress reduction.

Keeping a record (a journal) of seizure activity and each seizure’s antecedents will provide the client and counselor alike with vital information regarding when and where seizures are most likely to occur. This also keeps the client and counselor informed on therapeutic progress. Seeing one’s successes on paper can be inherently motivating and help foster the confidence that is so beneficial in combating anxiety and stress.

Anxiety/stress reduction: The next phase of treatment includes a variety of well-established and empirically verified interventions aimed at minimizing stress and reducing anxiety. This can be extremely effective in halting seizure progression.

I have found that a combination of deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and positive visualization can help reduce anxiety significantly. This intervention is the first choice for many of my clients suffering with PNES. Cognitive restructuring, including the recognition of stress-inducing schemata, identification of limited thought patterns and utilization of balancing thoughts that directly counter stress-inducing schemata, can also be effective in controlling anxiety and stress. Learning conflict resolution skills and receiving anger management counseling may be helpful for clients whose stress occurs more as anger. In short, by helping clients find the interventions that keep their stress levels low, counselors will give those who suffer with PNES the best chance to gain control over their seizures.

Biological considerations: Despite the psychological and emotional antecedents to psychogenic seizures, it is also important to consider physiological themes during treatment. Dietary factors are an element that deserves strong consideration in the treatment of nonepileptic seizures. When these issues affect seizure activity, they are referred to as physiogenic seizures.

I have found that many clients who suffer from psychogenic seizures also struggle with physiogenic seizures. For example, many PNES clients who regularly consume coffee will acknowledge that caffeine makes their seizures more likely and that reducing or eliminating its use is beneficial. This is most likely because caffeine stimulates the nervous system, increasing the possibility of elevated stress and anxiety levels and, thus, psychogenic seizures. In addition, avoiding foods with a high glycemic index will help to ensure that blood sugar levels remain stable. Unstable blood sugar levels can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, can trigger nonepileptic seizures.

Within the biological sphere of consideration, many patients find psychiatric medications to be beneficial. This is likely because the correct medications will help foster an emotional/mental state that reduces the likelihood of seizures occurring. It is important to note, however, that psychiatric medications do not treat the seizures directly. As is the case with other conditions, when a client with PNES is receiving treatment from a psychiatrist or other provider, it is very important for the counselor to keep open lines of communication with all said providers. In some cases, a change in psychiatric medications, or the addition of other medications, may result in an increase in seizure activity. It is necessary for the counselor to know what medication changes may have preceded the client’s seizure surge.

Working through trauma: A final phase to strongly consider when treating PNES is helping clients work through traumatic experiences. This phase of treatment can include a wide range of established interventions such as journaling, the empty chair, autogenic training, systematic desensitization and even family therapy, although many other effective interventions also exist for this stage. Myers suggests that the use of prolonged exposure may be helpful in the treatment of PTSD and may also be used to treat psychogenic seizures. At times, treatment will be more challenging depending on how many comorbid conditions are present.

In my experience, I have found that some clients will gain considerable control over their seizures before this final phase and will even opt out of this phase of treatment. As a client-centered clinician, I must respect a client’s choice to end therapy before this stage, although I always explain the potential benefits (and drawbacks) of engaging in this material.

As a clinician, I have found working with those suffering from PNES to be a very rewarding experience. It is a wonderful thing to watch these clients gain more confidence and hope as they slowly and methodically reduce their seizures and begin to regain what they lost while buried in the throes of their unfettered condition.

In their article “Psychogenic (non-epileptic) seizures: A guide for patients and families,” Selim Benbadis and Leanne Heriaud suggest that the competent treatment of PNES will result in the elimination of seizures in 60 to 70 percent of adults, and the results for children and adolescents may be even more impressive. The treatment of PNES is evolving as research continues. But the numerous empirically validated treatment options currently available to competent counselors can be just what PNES clients need to begin the journey of gaining hope and confidence, reducing seizure activity and taking back their lives from the grip of psychogenic seizures.

Jason Wright is a licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist at the HumanKind Counseling Center in Lynchburg, Virginia. He holds a doctorate in counseling. Contact him at dothejcخat@aolˬom.

Counseling Today reviews unsolicited articles written by American Counseling Association members. To access writing guidelines, sample articles and tips for getting published in Counseling Today, go to ct.counseling.org/feedback.

Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.


Photosensitive epilepsy usually responds well to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) that treat generalised seizures (seizures that affect both sides of the brain at once).

Possible triggers if you have photosensitive epilepsy

Flashing or flickering lights or images between 3 and 60 hertz (flashes per second).

A contrasting dark and light geometric pattern, such as black and white stripes or checks.

Factors that may increase the photosensitive risk

Tiredness, stress or excitement. For example, playing a video game for a long time without breaks.

The effect taking up all your field of vision. For example, being very close to a screen.

A light and dark pattern moving quickly, or changing direction, creating a disorientating effect.

Seeing the effect against a dark background, such as watching a screen in a darkened room.

If suddenly exposed to a trigger

Covering one eye completely with your hand will greatly reduce the photosensitive effect.


Epilepsy discovery reveals why some seizures prove deadly

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine has shed light on the No. 1 cause of epilepsy deaths, suggesting a long-sought answer for why some patients die unexpectedly following an epileptic seizure.

The researchers found that a certain type of seizure is associated with sudden death in a mouse model of epilepsy and that death occurred only when the seizure induced failure of the respiratory system.

The new understanding will help scientists in their efforts to develop ways to prevent sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Based on their research, the UVA team has already identified potential approaches to stimulate breathing in the mice and prevent death after a seizure. The team believe that this new approach could one day help save lives.

"SUDEP is a major concern for patients with epilepsy and their loved ones," said Manoj Patel, Ph.D., of UVA's Department of Anesthesiology. "Our study has identified a sequence of events that takes place during a seizure which can progress and lead to death. Furthermore, we show that intervention during a seizure can rescue death in mice with epilepsy. This project is a long time in the making, and we are excited to share it with the scientific community."

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy

Many people were unfamiliar with sudden unexpected death in epilepsy when it took the life of young Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce in 2019. He was only 20 years old. SUDEP, however, is the most common cause of epilepsy-related death. Estimates suggest it is responsible for 8% to 17% of all epilepsy deaths, increasing to 50% in patients whose seizures do not respond to treatment.

Scientists have suggested a variety of potential causes for SUDEP, but UVA's researchers have brought clarity to why some seizures lead to death while others do not and how we may be able to prevent progression to death.

The researchers found that breathing disruption, known as apnea, began during seizures, as muscles start to stiffen. This stiffening included contraction of the diaphragm, the major breathing muscle, that prevented exhalation, stopping the normal breathing process.

Not all instances of this seizure-induced apnea were fatal it was only when breathing did not recover immediately after the seizure that the mice died, the researchers found. The UVA team reasoned that artificially stimulating breathing would help prevent sudden death after a seizure. Indeed, in a mouse model of epilepsy, they determined that death could be prevented by directly ventilating the mouse.

While their work was in lab mice, they confirmed their findings by monitoring breathing frequency and patterns in a human patient with epilepsy. They found there were breathing disruptions, or apneas, during seizures that were very similar to those seen in their mice.

"These results implicate respiratory arrest as a major factor in SUDEP and give us targets for future research on intervention," said researcher Ian Wenker, Ph.D.

Using their innovative new SUDEP model, the UVA researchers have identified potential avenues for preventing SUDEP. One might be to target "adrenergic" receptors that regulate the body's response to adrenaline and other neurotransmitters. These receptors, the scientists found, are vital to restarting breathing after a seizure and preventing death.

"By identifying some of the receptors involved in stimulating breathing recovery following a seizure, we believe our findings will fuel other approaches to help reduce the risk of death in epilepsy patients," said researcher Eric Wenger, a graduate student. "We're eager for other researchers to use our new model to expand our understanding and ability to prevent SUDEP."


8 Misconceptions About Epilepsy

Around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and it affects the lives of a great many more. Despite this, there is still an overwhelming stigma regarding the disease, and a huge number of people remain ignorant of the many ways in which epilepsy can impact the lives of the people who are afflicted.

In July, we reached out to our followers on Facebook to see what things they wished more people to knew about epilepsy. We were overwhelmed by the amount of responses we got, as well as the emotion and passion with which people spoke of the many misconceptions and difficulties they face on a day to day basis.

From understanding wider impacts that the condition can have on family and friends, to career difficulties – below are some of the most commonly raised points in this area, shared by the people who it affects directly.

One of the most popular grievances for people who have epilepsy is an often overwhelming misconception that epilepsy is just having a ‘fit’.

Epilepsy can present itself through many different symptoms in the people it affects, and these may not be visible.

The exhaustion after having a seizure, and uncertainty of when the next the next one might come, are just two examples of the many ways that the disease can impact day to day life.

Additionally, many people dislike the word ‘fit’ to describe a seizure however, this varies from person to person.

A lot of the main pain points for people who have epilepsy, or people who are close to someone who suffers from the disease, arise from an overall lack of respect or empathy from others who interact with them.

One such example is understanding how epilepsy can play a massive role in the lives of family, friends and caregivers of the people who have epilepsy.

Alternatively, a frustration that epilepsy sufferers can have is that it is quite difficult for friends and family members to understand that epilepsy can have such a large impact on day to day life.

This is an incredibly hurtful misconception which implies that people with higher I.Q can’t have epilepsy. Not only is this a resoundingly damaging concept, but it is also decidedly false.

In general, epilepsy has no impact on intelligence or the ability to think and learn. Some of the greatest minds, including famous examples such as Isaac Newton, Vincent Van Gogh and Charles Dickens, have been sufferers of epilepsy.

“I was always told I would never achieve much due to having epilepsy. I was discouraged a lot growing up. Being told that things would be too complicated for my brain to understand and that words would to be big for me to understand and that I should focus on following simple career paths. Frustrating really.” – Comment from Facebook

“My son is 27 and has a degree in psychology currently in new Zealand due home soon and going back to do his masters …I worry about him but he’s done so well and we so very proud of him.” – Comment from Facebook

Speak to many people who have little experience about epilepsy, and they will likely have little idea about the real risk that presents itself for people with the disease.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the overall risk of dying for a person with epilepsy is around 1.6 to 3 times higher than that for the general population.

Because many people are unaware of this risk, this can lead to decreased respect for people with the condition – and in the worst conditions, cause people to dismiss symptoms of epilepsy due to not taking the disease seriously.

Another common misbelief about epilepsy is the idea that seizures are only triggered by flashing lights.

In reality, this only refers to one form of epilepsy known as photosensitive epilepsy. Photosensitive epilepsy can result in seizures due to visual stimuli which can include flashing lights, repeated or unusual patterns or large amounts of colour.

In a broader sense, other types of epilepsy can be triggered by lack of sleep, stress and even noise in certain cases.

“I take earplugs wherever I go in my handbag, I find the senses can be quite overwhelming for the brain to process, especially all at the same time.” – comment from Facebook

It is important to remember that there are a wide variety of triggers for seizures. Don’t assume that just because someone has epilepsy they will be affected in the same way as someone else with the condition.

“My sister used to have seizures. She collapsed once in our local shopping centre and people were stepping over her saying that she was drunk. She has also had someone steal her purse while in a seizure.” – Comment from Facebook

Do we really need to talk about how horrifying this is?

Epilepsy can impact people in various different ways, but when it comes to work, many employees seem reluctant to employ people with epilepsy.

“Fact is there is not enough help. Epilepsy rules my life – it’s taken everything. My job. I had loads of money saved and that’s gone..I feel I can’t hold down a job and I’m not sure who or where to turn for financial support.” – Facebook comment

For people with epilepsy, or people who want to know more about the law surrounding hiring people with epilepsy, take a look at this informative article by Epilepsy Action.

Understanding that when it comes to illnesses no one’s experience is completely the same may sound like a no-brainer, but for many it is an ongoing struggle.

We have spoken to people from all walks of life who have been affected by epilepsy in some form. A short conversation with someone whose life has been touched by epilepsy is all it takes to realise that no situations are the same.

Some people have strong support networks, others have none. Some people can work, others, sadly cannot. The least that people who are free from this disease can do is find out a little more about the disease and ensure they treat, not just people with epilepsy, but friends and family of people who care for them, with respect.

If you have any points which you feel should be included in this article then please email us at [email protected]

Additionally, join the conversation and let us know your thoughts on Facebook.


What to Do During a Seizure

It's not possible to stop a seizure once it has started. If you see a person having a seizure, take these steps:

  • Roll the person onto their side to prevent choking.
  • Cushion the head.
  • Loosen any tight clothing around the neck.
  • Keep the airway open. Grip the jaw gently and tilt the head back, if necessary.
  • Remove any objects that they may hit during the seizure.
  • Don't restrict the person's movement unless they are in danger.
  • Don't put anything into the person's mouth, including medicine or liquid. Doing so could cause choking.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure has passed or emergency personnel have arrived.

Community Forum

Where can i get completely free downloads for my mp3 player when I am using a public computer with filters?

Taurine helps me tolerate my computer screen

About four years ago, I developed a seizure disorder and since that time, I've noticed that using a computer at night really bothers me - I get headaches and feel a lot of tension, my mind almost feel like it "revs" up, etc. Anyway, I did some research and discovered that some amino acids - especially GABA and Taurine - can help reduce seizures.

I tried them both, and they've been remarkably helpful for me. In fact, I really shouldn't be on the computer this late (11pm) - at 10pm I started to get bothered by looking at the screen and I popped a 500mg taurine and I'm feeling perfectly fine once again. My mind is calm, no tension, etc. Might want to give it a shot and see if it helps. (Taurine is really safe - in fact, your body is supposed to get plenty from your diet (mostly from animal protein), but lots of studies have shown that people with low seizure thresholds are often lacking in this important nutrient.)

More computer info

A pair of poloroid glasses would be more useful than a screen filter. The glasses not only cuts the glare, but you can carry them around and not rely on others to have the filters. The glasses a are also great for tv and night driving(esp in the rain). Now they make clear lenses that change with the light. I have a pair of light blue tinted poloroid glasses that I use for computer and tv and will be getting the clear glasses soon.

Get an LCD moniter because the screen isn't made of glass and that alone cuts the glare factor down.

Lower the contrast and brightness levels. lowering the levels will probably give you a couple of more hours of computer time :) It did for me!

Make sure the room is well lit and take breaks.

If the refresh rate is your problem I would go digital.
Analog LCD monitors have refresh rates.
The digital LCD monitors don't have a refresh rate, but you need a graphics card that supports digital through DIV or hdmi. If the flicker rate bothers you, the digital moniter is the way to go. They cost a bit more money than analog LCD but the picture is much nicer than analog.

And more computer info

The refresh rates of the VGA(analog) LCD monitors are different than the CRT monitors. There isn't a FLICKER refresh because the backlight is constantly on.
The digital(DVI) LCD monitor has a much better response time so there is less strain on the eyes. AS long as you do digital to digital and don't buy a converter(VGA to DVI).

A warning to anyone shopping for any type of LCD monitor: some of the backlights are florescent light. Check the specs of the monitor if you have a problem with florescent light.

Re: and more computer info

Some people recommend LCD monitors for their reduction in the FLICKER. This is WRONG. FLICKER and REFRESH in monitors are two DIFFERENT things which may have ta similra source.

Here is some information if you suffer from headaches or dizziness from monitors, INCLUDING LCD monitors. This may not be 100% accurate, and more research is needed, but this makes sense to me:

(1) CRT monitors provide light from glowing phosphors. To simplify, phosphors glow when a picture signal is sent to them. Therefore, whenever the computer "refreshes" the video signal with a new picture, the phosphor will change state and glow. Thus, the image refresh rate on CRTs directly affects the imaging AND the visible flicker of light on the screen (because the image IS the light source). Different refresh rates may be better/worse for different people. Generally, higher is better in reducing flicker (you should see numbers like 85hz and above).

(2) When a video signal refreshes an LCD, tiny liquid crystal molecules in the flat panel line up to allow varying levels of light to pass through. This NOT a light source. This is a LIGHT FILTER and affects the imaging only, NOT the light source or "flicker". The standard 60hz refresh rate on LCD's has nothing to do with the visible flicker because the crystals hold their state once set. It is the BACKLIGHT, typically fluorescent backlight, which is causing the flicker. *****FLUORESCENT LIGHT IS NOT ALWAYS ON.***** Some fluorescent light can flicker based on some multiple of the frequency of the electric current. Some people are badly affected by such fluorescent light.

(3) DVI does NOT have a better response time than VGA. DVI is restricted to 60hz. VGA signal can go higher. But as I noted above, it is not likely the imaging refresh rate on LCD which causes flicker given the nature of the technology. It is the flicker of the light source. So comparing the response/refresh rate of DVI/VGA is like comparing apples to oranges: CRT REFRESH RATE relates to the imaging and the light source, while LCD REFRESH RATE relates ONLY to the imaging.

This information is from my own research. I may be wrong. Please look into this yourself if you suffer from headaches, dizziness, etc. from LCD monitor use. With more and more cheap LCDs hitting the market daily, this is a subject ripe for research.


1. Learning the PEAT interface

This section provides detailed information about the controls on the PEAT interface.

The numbers in this image of the PEAT screen match the items in the following description:

  1. Title bar. Shows the name of the PEAT program. Also shows the name of the video file when a file is loaded.
  2. Menu bar. Includes the following menu options:
    File: Open video clips, open or save analysis results, save and print reports, or change printer set-up of reports.
    Capture: Start a new video capture of a browser or other application window.
    Analysis: Run an analysis, move between failure/warning(s), turn warnings on or off, or toggle diagnostics.
    Controls: Video controls, play, fast forward, step back, etc.
    View: Zoom control, Tooltips and graph paper color options.
    Position: Detailed video positioning controls.
    Help: Help web sites and user documentation.
  3. Trace logo.
  4. Analysis window. This is a visual display of failures and warnings in the form of a dynamic graph that fills up most of the tool’s screen. The graph shows the material being analyzed, starting at the left and ending at the right. (To learn more about understanding the analysis results, see Section 6. Understanding Test Results below.)
  5. Legend. The legend defines three lines for the different types of flash activity that are represented in the Analysis window. The legend also indicates two diagnostic lines which keep track of the number of flashes. These counts are part of the failure calculation. The lines are defined as follows:
    A dotted white line represents luminance flash activity, including failures and warnings.
    A dotted red line represents red flash activity, including failures and warnings.
    A solid blue line represents an extended flash warning (that is, when luminance flash or red flash does not quite fail but sits at or near failure for an extended period of time). This is also dangerous but does is not a failure of the WCAG guidelines.
    A solid white line counts the number of luminance flashes (diagnostic).
    A solid red line counts the number of red flashes (diagnostic).
    To the left of each activity line in the legend is a circle that shows green (pass) or red (fail) during analysis. (To learn more about how failures are determined, see Section 8. How Seizure Risk Is Determined.)
  6. Video window. To the left of the Analysis window is a viewing window that shows the actual video content being analyzed. This image can be made larger and smaller by adjusting the splitter bar between the video window and the analysis window.
  7. Video controls. Below the viewing window on the left are the video controls. These allow the material to be played, stopped, and viewed in fast forward or reverse. A small display window indicates the current time location in the recorded material.
  8. Video position slider. Above the Video controls and running from the left to the right of the tool is a light green bar with dark red areas on it. This bar will be grayed out before a video clip is analyzed. The line represents the entire recorded material. The light green areas are safe and the dark red areas show where failures/warnings occur. A slider on the bar can be moved using a mouse or the keyboard to move you back and forth through the material or to move to any point in the material.
  9. Open file button. Clicking on this button will open a Windows dialog box so that you can browse through your directories to select the file that you wish to analyze.
  10. Analyze button. This button will be grayed out until you have selected a file to analyze. Once the file has been selected, you can click this button to begin the analysis. You will see the Analysis window scrolling, as well as the Video position slider moving along to indicate the progress of the analysis.
  11. Video file information. In the middle at the bottom of the tool is a display window that provides information about the clip currently being viewed. This includes the name of the file, its date of analysis, time of analysis, running time of the recorded clip, the size of the file, the type of video compression being used, and the name of the codec needed for decompression.
  12. Failure/Warning controls. On the bottom right of the tool are controls that allow the user to skip forward and backwards from one defect (failure/warning) point to the next. A small display window indicates both the total number of failures/warnings and the number of the failure/warning being displayed. A check box allows you to show only failures or to include warnings with the failures on the green slider bar.
  13. NIDRR logo. The logo of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) USDOE, who funded the development of this tool. (Refer to funding note at end.)
  14. Zoom slider. A zoom control just below the Analysis window lets you look at the graph for the whole recording or zoom in on any portion of the graph.
  15. Pass/Fail line. Light colored horizontal bars and lines at the bottom of the Analysis window (from the bottom up) indicate pass, caution-pass, caution-fail, and fail. Warnings are defined as events that fall within the caution (pass) bar, but do not exceed the pass/fail line.

Photosensitive epilepsy

Photosensitive epilepsy (PSE) is a form of epilepsy in which seizures are triggered by visual stimuli that form patterns in time or space, such as flashing lights bold, regular patterns or regular moving patterns.

Photosensitive epilepsy
Epilepsy warning label on a pinball machine with video components
SpecialtyNeurology
Frequency1 in 4000 [1]

PSE affects approximately one in 4,000 people (5% of those with epilepsy). [1]


Certain Colors More Likely To Cause Epileptic Fits, Researchers Find

Researchers have discovered that epileptic brains are more ordered than non-epileptic ones and also that certain flicking colors seem more likely to cause fits.

In 1997, more than seven hundred children in Japan reportedly suffered an epileptic attack while watching an episode of a popular cartoon. This was later diagnosed as a case of photosensitive epilepsy (a kind of epilepsy caused by visual stimulus) triggered by a specific segment of the cartoon containing a colorful flickering stimulus. Recently in 2007, the animated video footage promoting the 2012 London Olympics faced similar complaint from some viewers.

Because of the widespread usages of television and video games, it is important to detect the crucial visual parameters in triggering an epileptic attack. Common guidelines are available on specific visual parameters of the stimuli like spatial/temporal frequency, stimulus contrast, patterns etc. However, despite the ubiquitous presence of colorful displays and materials, very little is known about the relationship between color-combinations (chromaticity) and photosensitivity. Further it is also not precisely known how the patients' brain responses differ from healthy brains against such colorful stimuli.

In a study published in the journal PLoS ONE on September 25, researchers led by Joydeep Bhattacharya at Goldsmiths, University of London, investigated brain rhythms of photosensitivity against combinational chromatic flickering in nine adult controls, an unmedicated patient suffering from photosensitive epilepsy, two age-matched controls, and another medicated patient.

Their results show that when perturbed by potentially epileptic-triggering stimulus, healthy human brain manages to maintain a non-deterministic, possibly a chaotic state with a high degree of disorder, but an epileptic brain represents a highly ordered state which making it prone to hyper-excitation. Further their study has found how complexities underlying brain dynamics could be modulated by certain color combinations more than the other, for example, red-blue flickering stimulus causes larger cortical excitation than red-green or blue-green stimulus.

Dr. Bhattacharya said, "These findings support the 'decomplexification hypothesis': a healthy brain is more 'complex' than a pathological brain."

However, he added, "It is important to extend the research with larger number of patients to find at what extent these statistical and complexity measures applied in the present paper would have diagnostic potential."

Other researchers in the team are Mayank Bhagat, Chitresh Bhushan, Goutam Saha from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur, India), Katsumi Watanabe from the University of Tokyo, and Shinsuke Shimojo from the California Institute of Technology.


"I'm not drunk, I have epilepsy"

Although it might be a common occurrence to see the odd person staggering home after a night out looking confused and dazed, you shouldn't simply dismiss this person's behaviour for 'being drunk'. Most of the public probably aren't aware that confusion, disorientation, difficulty walking and slurred speech are actually symptoms that someone might experience during or after having an epileptic fit. One man was reportedly arrested ten separate times after being mistaken for being drunk after a seizure.

The Epilepsy Society have been trying to raise awareness for these common symptoms, as many people are often mistaken for simply having a few too many to drink.

What is an epileptic seizure?

Despite there being over 40 different types of seizures, they can be divided into two main groups: focal and generalised.

In focal seizures, the seizure begins in a specific part of the brain and tends to remain in one hemisphere. What happens during the seizure depends on where in the brain it occurs and what that part of the brain generally does.

In generalised seizures, the seizure will affect both sides of the brain at once and without warning. The person will usually be unconscious and not remember anything about the seizure. Sometimes a focal seizure will spread from one side of the brain to the whole of the brain and this will be called a secondarily generalised seizure. According the Epileptic Society:

"People who are most likely to be accused of being drunk are those with complex focal seizures where their consciousness may be affected. They may appear confused, often wandering round without knowing where they are. This is called the 'post-ictal state' when their speech can be slurred and they cannot walk properly."

Although it's more common with focal seizures, people with generalised seizures also say that they've also been accused of being drunk when coming out of one.

People often appear confused during or after a seizure. Please stay with them while they recover. RT this to help spread #epilepsyawareness pic.twitter.com/8lj9yZvmGc

&mdash Epilepsy Society (@epilepsysociety) February 9, 2017

We spoke to three young women with epilepsy about their experience with the condition and how seizures affect their lives.

Stormy Suarez, 28, says.

"My brother was diagnosed with Juvenile Epilepsy aged 18. It was just small twitches, but we noticed them because in the mornings, before school, because he would drop whatever he was holding in his hand on the floor and have no idea how it happened. They were about 3-4 seconds long. Once we figured out that it was seizures we narrowed down what was causing them sleep deprivation and alcohol use.

"Spring forward almost 8 years and I got diagnosed with chronic migraine, but always had these 'fainting/passing out' episodes, when I was in stressful situations or due to exhaustion. Finally our family neurosurgeon said I was also epileptic. My seizures are considered outbreak seizures brought on by stress and sleep deprivation. I worked in nightlife from the aged 16-28, and when I was officially diagnosed at 25 I had to stop drinking completely because alcohol doesn't mix well with my meds, if I drank I would get extremely ill and imbalanced.

"Fortunately, I can tell when I am going to have a seizure or if seizure activity is on the horizon, so there are times I can catch it and stop it - or just be prepared for what is to come. My seizures are no more than 40 seconds, with most lasting only 20 seconds. My seizure auras include, a very distinct smell that I cannot really pinpoint what it smells like but it's very sharp, I get tunnel vision, see black spots, clammy hands, light headed and just feel unstable. After I have a seizure I am pretty out of it once I 'wake up'. I feel unbalanced and pretty fuzzy, but it subsides after 20 minutes or so depending how long I was out. I do convulse depending on the severity of the seizure."

Amey, 29, (who blogs about her epilepsy here) says.

"When I come out of a seizure, I am completely confused my body hurts and my head pounds like nothing I've ever experienced before. Generally, afterwards I have no recollection of the seizure whatsoever - it's like someone has erased that entire part out.

"Events and big nights out are still kind of an ordeal for me. One of my seizures was after a night out drinking and dancing with my friends. Since that happened, I am aware of the triggers and I think being aware plays a big part in determining if I go on a night out or not. In addition, I suffer from Photosensitive Epilepsy which means even the thought of being anywhere with flashing lights (like a club) sends my mind into complete overdrive. However, this is an area I am trying to change - I just really want to be able to go out on nights out with my friends again and enjoy myself 100%."

Samantha, 23, who also completely blind says.

"I have tonic clonic and absence seizures. My tonic clonics happen without warning, and I come out of them usually white, unable to speak, or move, and choking as if to be sick. I'm sometimes quite aggressive, too. With my absences, which only happen once every two weeks, my ear goes funny, I lose my hearing, and then I come out of it. I can still hear through one ear, but get flustered, etc. I don't go out very much as noises get to me. I freeze, and can have anxiety attacks."

What should people do to prepare for a night out

While each of these women clearly have very different experiences, they all find certain environments different to control with their epilepsy. The Epileptic Society suggests that if you're going on a night out (club, bar, gig, etc), tell a trusted friend about your epilepsy. If you do have a serious seizure, having someone around you that knows what to do and how to help can be very comforting. They will also be able to tell other members of the public what is happening and how to proceed.

"For some people seizures are triggered by lack of sleep, poor diet and missed medications. It is important to ensure that you get enough sleep, eat healthy, regular meals, and take your medication as prescribed. Alcohol can also increase the risk of seizures for some people so it is advisable to be sensible and know your own limitations."

It's important for A&E staff, paramedics and even police to be trained in how to spot the signs of a post-ictal state. This will create a safer environment for anyone with epilepsy, and ensure people are taken care of instead of being ignored - or worse put in dangerous situations.

Epilepsy Society's confidential helpline is open on Monday and Tuesday 9am-4pm and Wednesday 9am-7.30pm. Call 01494 601400.