The concept of consciousness is central to human experience in both health and pathology. Over the last few years, consciousness studies have featured translational approaches with multidisciplinary contributions from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. Transient alterations of consciousness characterize the clinical phenomenology of different types of epileptic seizure. The assessment of both the level of consciousness (arousal, clinically tested as responsiveness) and the contents of consciousness (awareness, clinically tested as patient report of subjective experiences) is of pivotal importance for the clinical characterization of the ictal state. Investigation of changes in brain activity during epileptic seizures resulting in complete loss of consciousness (e.g., absence and generalized tonic-clonic seizures) or specific alterations of the normal conscious state (e.g., focal seizures of temporal lobe origin) is likely to shed light on the so far elusive neural correlates of consciousness. In turn, in-depth understanding of the functional aspects of the neural networks sustaining consciousness can lead to the development of better strategies to improve seizure severity and health-related quality of life in patients with epilepsy.


Arousal Awareness Consciousness Contents Default Mode Network Epilepsy Experiences Level Responsiveness Seizures 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Michael Trimble Neuropsychiatry Research GroupBSMHFT and University of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.School of Life and Health SciencesAston UniversityBirminghamUK
  3. 3.Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement DisordersUCL and Institute of NeurologyLondonUK

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