From nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia to nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy

F. Provini, G. Plazzi, E. Lugaresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia (NPD) is the term used to describe motor attacks characterized by complex behavior, with dystonic-dyskinetic or ballic movements arising from NREM sleep. NPD together with paroxysmal arousals (PA), the briefest attacks, and episodic nocturnal wanderings (ENW), the most prolonged ones, constitute nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy (NFLE). PA are sudden awakenings associated with stereotyped dystonic-dyskinetic movements, sometimes accompanied by screaming and a frightened expression. ENW are episodes of agitated ambulation, with complex, sometimes violent, motor behavior and dystonic postures involving head, trunk and limbs. NPD, PA and ENW coexist in most patients. NFLE is predominant in males and usually begins during adolescence. A familial recurrence of parasomnias in NFLE patients is much more common than in the general population. Autosomal dominant inheritance has been documented in 6% of our cases. Few patients present personal antecedents or positive neuroradiological findings. Seizures are frequent, occurring every or almost every night, many times per night. Interictal wake and sleep EEG tracings are often normal and ictal epileptic activity is recorded in a relatively small number of cases. Carbamazepine controls or significantly reduces seizures in about 70% of cases; the remainder are drug-resistant. Videopolysomnographic recordings, showing stereotyped abnormal movements during attacks, are mandatory to confirm the diagnosis of NFLE. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2000


  • Arousal disorders
  • Autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy
  • Episodic nocturnal wandering
  • Frontal lobe epilepsy
  • Nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia
  • Paroxysmal arousal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems


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