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Transient epileptic amnesia: déjà vu heralding recovery of lost memories
  1. F Milton1,
  2. C R Butler2,
  3. A Z J Zeman3
  1. 1School of Psychology, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  2. 2Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Fraser Milton, Washington Singer Laboratories, Perry Road, Exeter EX4 4QG, UK; f.n.milton{at}

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Transient epileptic amnesia (TEA) is a form of temporal lobe epilepsy in which the main and sometimes only manifestation of the seizure is a period of amnesia, usually lasting less than 1 h, during which other cognitive functions remain intact. Attacks are frequent, often occur on waking and typically respond promptly to anticonvulsants. Patients with TEA often complain of persistent interictal remote memory impairment and accelerated forgetting of new information.1

Déjà vu is the disconcerting feeling that our current experience echoes some ill-defined past experience.2 Déjà vu can be subdivided into a form related to the processing of familiarity, true déjà vu and a form related to the processing of recollection, “déjà vécu” (“already lived”).3 Many healthy people experience déjà vu occasionally, and it is sometimes a symptom of temporal lobe epilepsy.2 However, in a recent study, no patients with TEA reported clear-cut déjà vu in relation to their amnestic seizures.1 This could relate to the fact that déjà vu is more prevalent in younger people while TEA is a late onset disorder or to the pathophysiology of amnestic seizures.

We report a patient with TEA who experienced episodes of déjà vu approximately 5 years after cessation of his amnestic attacks. After these episodes, he recovered …

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  • Funding Great Western Research Initiative and Epilepsy Research UK.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Multicentre Research Ethics Committee, United Kingdom (MREC 03/10/77).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.