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May 25, 1963

Primary Reading Epilepsy

Author Affiliations

Jacksonville, Ill.; St. Louis

From the Division of Neurology and Electroencephalography, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

JAMA. 1963;184(8):661-662. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.73700210024020c

PATIENTS with convulsive disorders are often aware of the circumstances which precipitate their seizures, but these precipitating factors have only recently been studied systematically. Bickford and others1 in 1956 reported on a group of patients whose seizures were precipitated by reading. Since that time there have been 24 cases of reading epilepsy reported from various parts of the world. These have been reviewed recently by Critchley and others2 and by Lasater.3 The clinical picture in these cases is remarkably similar. The condition usually occurs in young adults, often students. Grand mal seizures are provoked by the act of reading, and this phenomenon produces educational and occupational handicaps.

Bickford divided the cases of reading epilepsy into primary and secondary types. The primary cases form a distinct group. The patient has convulsive seizures only when reading. There is often a prodromal sensation of movement or clicking of the jaws