What causes uncontrolled laughter in epilepsy?


ISLAMABAD -- A rare form of epilepsy can be characterized by seizures of uncontrolled laughter. What is the root cause, and can doctors address it? A new case study answers this question. Share on PinterestA case study found that an individual's uncontrolled bursts of laughter resulted from a rare form of epilepsy. Gelastic seizure, or gelastic epilepsy, is a rare form of epilepsy that causes unusual symptoms, particularly spurts of uncontrolled activity or behavior, such as laughter. This type of epilepsy is also associated with the presence of hypothalamic hamartomas - malformations that look much like tumors and develop in the hypothalamic region of the brain. Recently, a team of specialists and medical residents from the University of Hawai?i at Manoa's John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) encountered this in a man who had experienced gelastic seizures characterized by uncontrolled laughter since childhood.

Until that point, the man's epilepsy had remained undiagnosed, and he had received no treatment for it. "This was a very medically intriguing case. Prior to this case, I didn't know seizures could manifest in such a way as uncontrollable laughter," says JABSOM medical resident Nina Leialoha Beckwith. When Beckwith and the team received...

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