Telephone-induced Seizures: A New Type of Reflex Epilepsy

Roberto Michelucci, Elena Gardella, Gerrit Jan De Haan, Francesca Bisulli, Anna Zaniboni, Gaetano Cantalupo, Carlo Alberto Tassinari, Paolo Tinuper, Carlo Nobile, Paolo Nichelli, Dorothée G A Kasteleijn-Nolst Trenité

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To report a new form of reflex epilepsy in which the seizures are repeatedly and exclusively triggered by answering the telephone. Methods: Three patients with a history of telephone-induced seizures were studied in detail by means of clinical, EEG, and neuroradiologic investigations. Intensive video-EEG monitoring to record the reflex seizures also was performed in all cases. Results: The patients (two men, one woman, aged 21 to 30 years) had the onset during early adulthood of complex partial and secondarily generalized seizures exclusively triggered by answering the telephone. The seizures were stereo-typed, with subjective auditory or vertiginous auras and inability to speak or understand the spoken voices. In one patient, a telephone-induced seizure arising from the dominant temporal lobe was recorded by means of video-EEG technique. In the interictal EEGs, temporal abnormalities were detected in all cases. The patients had a normal neurologic examination and normal magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scans. Conclusions: We suggest that telephone epilepsy is a previously unrecognized form of reflex epilepsy induced by a complex auditory stimulus involving the lateral temporal areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-283
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • Auditory area
  • Lateral temporal lobe epilepsy
  • Reflex epilepsy
  • Telephone epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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