Epilepsy Foundation

Why do flashing lights cause seizures?

My friend is writing a paper about why flashing lights cause seizures. Since I have epilepsy, and she wants to find out more about it. But of course, she has to know how flashing lights, such as strobe lights can cause seizures. Before she can write the paper.

Thanks ahead of time!!

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Comment by Peter Ingalls on December 13, 2009 at 4:06pm
Why do flashing lights cause seizures in some people?

The mechanism by which rhythmic light stimulation can cause a seizure is not well understood. Apparently, it can cause nerve cells in those parts of the brain that process visual stimuli to all fire at once in a synchronized fashion, and this causes a seizure. According to neurologist Jerome Engel, "Instead of [the nerve cells] firing individually, like fingers playing notes on the piano, many fire at once-like the banging of dissonant chords". This only happens when the flashing light or pattern is in the central area of vision and is seen by both eyes.


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