Each side of your brain contains four lobes. The frontal lobe is important for cognitive functions and control of voluntary movement or activity. The parietal lobe processes information about temperature, taste, touch and movement, while the occipital lobe is primarily responsible for vision. The temporal lobe processes memories, integrating them with sensations of taste, sound, sight and touch.
Frontal lobe seizures are a common form of epilepsy, a neurological disorder in which clusters of brain cells send abnormal signals and cause seizures. These types of seizures stem from the front of the brain.
Abnormal brain tissue, infection, injury, stroke, tumors or other conditions can also cause frontal lobe seizures.
Because the frontal lobe is large and has important functions, frontal lobe seizures can produce unusual symptoms that can appear to be related to psychiatric problems or a sleep disorder. They often occur during sleep.
Medications usually can control frontal lobe seizures, but surgery or an electrical stimulation device might be options if anti-epileptic drugs aren't effective.
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Frontal lobe seizures often last less than 30 seconds. In some cases, recovery is immediate.
Signs and symptoms of frontal lobe seizures might include:
- Head and eye movement to one side
- Complete or partial unresponsiveness or difficulty speaking
- Explosive screams, including profanities, or laughter
- Abnormal body posturing, such as one arm extending while the other flexes, as if the person is posing like a fencer
- Repetitive movements, such as rocking, bicycle pedaling or pelvic thrusting
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you're having signs or symptoms of a seizure. Call 911 or call for emergency medical help if you see someone having a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes.
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Frontal lobe seizures, or frontal lobe epilepsy, can be caused by abnormalities — such as tumors, stroke, infection or traumatic injuries — in the brain's frontal lobes.
Frontal lobe seizures are also associated with a rare inherited disorder called autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy. If one of your parents has this form of epilepsy, you have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the abnormal gene that causes this disorder and developing the disease yourself.
For about half the people who have frontal lobe epilepsy, the cause remains unknown.
- Status epilepticus. Frontal lobe seizures, which tend to occur in clusters, might provoke this dangerous condition in which seizure activity lasts much longer than usual. Consider seizures that last longer than five minutes a medical emergency, and seek immediate help.
- Injury. The motions that occur during frontal lobe seizures sometimes result in injury to the person having the seizure. Seizures can also result in accidents and drowning.
- Sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). For unknown reasons, people who have seizures have a greater than average risk of dying unexpectedly. Possible factors include heart or breathing problems, perhaps related to genetic abnormalities. Controlling seizures as well as possible with medication appears to be the best prevention for SUDEP.
- Depression and anxiety. Both are common in people with epilepsy. Children also have a higher risk of developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.