Frontal Lobe Seizures

What are Frontal Lobe Seizures?

Short in duration, frontal lobe seizures are the most common type of epilepsy where partial seizures are experienced. Often appearing without warning and occurring in clusters, seizures of this nature can include loud vocal outbursts such as screaming and involuntary motor movements. As with other types of seizures, frontal lobe seizures are usually managed with medication.

What are the Symptoms of Frontal Lobe Seizures?

Abnormal brain tissue may trigger some frontal lobe seizures, although there is often no definitive cause. Often occurring during sleep, there’s research suggesting these seizures may also be related to sleep disorders or psychiatric issues. Most frontal lobe seizures take place during the first half of the day from early morning to early afternoon.

Characteristics include

  • Rhythmic motor movements
  • Short duration (often less than 30 seconds)
  • Rocking, bending, or jerking (usually while sleeping)

Frontal Lobe Seizures Causes

Seizures that occur in the frontal lobe are characteristic of Frontal Lobe Epilepsy, which may be caused by a number of sources, from head trauma to genetics. Some car accident survivors who suffered head trauma may experience frontal lobe seizures, likely due to damage in that part of the brain. Seizures from head trauma usually begin shortly after the accident, although in some cases they take years to manifest.

While head trauma does play a part in many cases, nearly one-third of cases involving frontal lobe seizures are caused by tumors. These cases usually involve low-grade tumors like gangliogliomas and epidermoid tumors, although high-grade tumors may be responsible as well.

As for genetic causes of the seizures, the primary cause of frontal lobe epilepsy, and therefore frontal lobe seizures, is an autosomal disease known as Autosomal Dominant Nocturnal Frontal Lobe Epilepsy. This disease originates in two genes and is the root of over a third of all known cases.

 How are Frontal Lobe Seizures Treated?

Seizures that come on suddenly with no previous symptoms usually require extensive diagnostic efforts, including the elimination of other possible conditions to avoid misdiagnosis as non-epileptic seizures. Image testing, including MRI and PET scans may be performed. Brain activity usually needs to be recorded during a seizure to confirm its location, which may not be possible if the origin is deep within the brain.

Treatment includes

  • Dietary adjustments (sometimes including a modified Atkins diet)
  • Corpus callosotomy (surgery on tissues that transmit messages in the brain)
  • Vagus nerve stimulation
  • Anti-seizure medications

Located in the front of the brain, the frontal lobe remains something of a mystery to researchers. Seizures in this location can be genetic and run in families or triggered by scarring in the brain. The outlook depends on the source and frequency of seizures. Genetic-based seizures may stop altogether at some point and others may need to be permanently controlled with medication.

Frontal Lobe Seizures Prevention

While the genetic diseases and tumors causing frontal lobe seizures cannot be prevented entirely, the seizures themselves can be controlled and prevented with medication and surgery. In situations where head trauma may cause seizures, the only way to prevent frontal lobe seizures is to prevent the head trauma itself. Seatbelts, responsible driving, and self-awareness are advised to avoid disaster. If you believe that you carry a gene for frontal lobe seizures, preventing its occurrence in your child may require genetic counseling and testing.

In some cases, seizures can be prevented with diet. Eating a specific, controlled diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates, the body can be forced to create an excess of ketone bodies, which is said to reduce the likelihood of seizures by targeting the brain’s energy source. This method is frequently used in cases with children, or in situations where other forms of treatment and prevention are impossible.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017