Prince

Prince reveals his struggle with epilepsy on the Tavis Smiley show: singer says he developed flashy persona to compensate for illness. The American Academy of Neurology's Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, presents some questions and answers to help our readers understand more about epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the name given to a condition in which seizures can occur on their own without a clear trigger. Seizures that are not spontaneous usually take place only when the immediate cause is present, such as a poison, illness, or problem with metabolism. A seizure is a symptom of abnormal function of the brain cells in which the normal activity of neighboring cells becomes synchronized repeatedly, probably due to the effects of the electrical and chemical signals that allow the cells to "talk" with each other.

he symptoms of a seizure can be very different from person to person, or even seizure to seizure. Some people lose consciousness and fall down with movements of the entire body. Once called "grand mal", most doctors now call these "generalized seizures" since large parts of the brain are affected by the seizure activity. Some seizures are more subtle, however, and produce only some involuntary movement of a limb, tingling, confusion or repetitive behavior. Consciousness and memory are not always impaired. There can be an "aura" that warns the person that a seizure is starting. These subjective experiences can be a funny feeling, emotion, memory, or even a hallucination. Almost any kind of mental experience is possible depending on where in the brain the seizure starts.

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