Consciousness, epilepsy, and emotional qualia

F Monaco, M Mula, Andrea Cavanna

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

43 Citations (Scopus)


The last decade has seen a renaissance of consciousness studies, witnessed by the growing number of scientific investigations on this topic. The concept of consciousness is central in epileptology, despite the methodological difficulties concerning its application to the multifaced ictal phenomenology. The authors provide an up-to-date review of the neurological literature on the relationship between epilepsy and consciousness and propose a bidimensional model (level vs contents of consciousness) for the description of seizure-induced alterations of conscious states, according to the findings of recent neuroimaging studies. The neurophysiological correlates of ictal loss and impairment of consciousness are also reviewed. Special attention is paid to the subjective experiential states associated with medial temporal lobe epilepsy. Such ictal phenomenal experiences are suggested as a paradigm for a neuroscientific approach to the apparently elusive philosophical concept of qualia. Epilepsy is confirmed to represent a privileged window over basic neurobiological mechanisms of consciousness. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
JournalEpilepsy & Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2005


  • experiential phenomena
  • epilepsy
  • qualia
  • consciousness


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