The wide clinical spectrum of nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy

Federica Provini, Giuseppe Plazzi, Pasquale Montagna, Elio Lugaresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy (NFLE) has become clinically relevant in recent years. NFLE represents a spectrum of clinical manifestations, ranging from brief, stereotyped, sudden arousals, often recurring several times per night, sometimes with a quasi-periodic pattern, to more complex dystonic-dyskinetic seizures and to prolonged 'somnambulic' behaviour. Episodes of increasing intensity have been labelled as paroxysmal arousal (PA), nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia (NPD) and episodic nocturnal wandering (ENW). NFLE affects both sexes with a higher prevalence for men, is frequently cryptogenetic and displays a strong familial trait for parasomnias and epilepsy (NFLE). Seizures appear more frequently between 14 and 20 years of age, but can affect any age and tend to increase in frequency during life. Interictal and ictal scalp electroencephalography (EEG) are often normal, the use of sphenoidal leads may be helpful. Carbamazepine taken at night is often effective at low doses, but a third of the patients are resistant to anti-epileptic drugs (AED) treatment. A familial form, characterized by an autosomal dominant transmission, has also been described. Autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy is a genetic variant of NFLE, in itself both clinically and biologically heterogeneous. NFLE should be suspected in the presence of frequent stereotyped paroxysmal nocturnal motor events arising or persisting into adulthood. Videopolysomnography is mandatory to confirm the diagnosis. (C) 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-386
Number of pages12
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2000


  • Episodic nocturnal wandering
  • Nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy
  • Nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia
  • Parasomnias
  • Paroxysmal arousal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Dentistry(all)


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