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Lateralising value of experiential hallucinations in temporal lobe epilepsy
  1. Lukas Heydrich1,2,
  2. Guillaume Marillier1,
  3. Nathan Evans1,
  4. Olaf Blanke1,2,3,
  5. Margitta Seeck2
  1. 1Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, Brain-Mind Institute, School of Life Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. 2Department of Neurology, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  3. 3Center for Neuroprosthetics, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lukas Heydrich, Department of Neurology, Inselspital Bern, Freiburgstrasse 4, Bern 3010, Switzerland; lukas.heydrich{at}


Objectives Ever since John Hughlings Jackson first described the so-called ‘dreamy state’ during temporal lobe epilepsy, that is, the sense of an abnormal familiarity (déjà vu) or vivid memory-like hallucinations from the past (experiential hallucinations), these phenomena have been studied and repeatedly linked to mesial temporal lobe structures. However, little is known about the lateralising value of either déjà vu or experiential hallucinations.

Methods We analysed a sample of 28 patients with intractable focal epilepsy suffering from either déjà vu or experiential hallucinations. All the patients underwent thorough presurgical examination, including MRI, positron emission tomography, single-photon emission CT, EEG and neuropsychological examination.

Results While déjà vu was due to right or left mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, experiential hallucinations were strongly lateralised to the left mesial temporal lobe. Moreover, there was a significant effect for interictal language deficits being more frequent in patients suffering from experiential hallucinations.

Conclusions These results suggest a lateralising value for experiential hallucinations to the left temporal lobe.


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