A New Piece of Seizure Inducing Media: Sean Paul Reggae

Don't play any of the embedded videos if you've ever had a seizure.
Now that we're done with the warning...

We've all heard of the Pokemon incident in Japan where nearly 700 school aged children were admitted to the hospital with "convulsions, vomiting, irritated eyes and other symptoms" common to epilepsy. This lead to a number of government investigations and media companies searching their offerings to determine whether any of their shows had similar scenes that might induce photosensitive epilepsy. According to a CNN report of the incidents:

Dr. Yukio Fukuyama, a juvenile epilepsy expert, said that "television epilepsy" can be triggered by flashing, colorful lights. Though the phenomenon was observed before television, photosensitive epilepsy, as it is also called, has become far more common as TV has spread. The same symptoms have also been observed in children playing video games.

It is relatively rare for epileptics to be the photosensitive type, and according to Wikipedia only between three and five percent of epileptics are of the photosensitive type. In the general population only about two people per 10,000 are epileptic. Epilepsy peaks in puberty, so it is relatively rare for adults to present with epilepsy, especially photosensitive epilepsy. So if you are an adult with no history of epilepsy you'll probably be safe watching the famous Pokemon Epilepsy Episode. If you're a teen, perhaps you should watch this with a parent. After all you're better off knowing if you have photosensitive epilepsy in a safe environment with a caretaker. You don't want to be walking down the street and then suddenly wake up in a hospital with your head busted open (It happened to a friend of mine - so I know it's possible!)

As soon as I heard about this effect back in college I went looking for the video but YouTube just wasn't available then so I had to wait until recently to see the Pokemon Epilepsy Episode. So here it is:

In addition to Pokemon there have been other incidents on TV, Dragonball Z as well as a London Olympics 2012 ad campaign among others have been reported to have caused a number of seizures. Of course there are many things that can induce seizure in people, annoying spouses, mother-in-laws (kidding about those I hope), and of course seizures can occur for no external reason at all many many times a day. Now there is one more way to induce a seizure for one woman. The song Temperature by Sean Paul has been reported to induce seizures in a Canadian woman. Before I we continue with the story here's the song we're talking about (Warning: If you don't like crappy music you should probably not listen to this!)

According to an AP News report on Wired News:

Gayle, a 25-year-old customer service employee at a bank in Alberta, Canada, was suffering as many as 10 grand mal seizures a day, despite being treated with medications designed to control them. The condition became so bad she eventually had to quit her job and leave the church choir where she sang.

Eighteen months ago, she began to suspect that music by reggae and hip-hop artist Sean Paul was triggering some of her seizures. She recalled being at a barbecue and collapsing when the Jamaican rapper's music started playing, and then remembered having a previous seizure when she heard his music.

Her suspicions were confirmed on a visit to the Long Island medical center last February, when she played Paul's hit "Temperature" on her iPod for doctors. Soon after, she suffered three seizures.

"Being that the seizures could be triggered by the music, this was a very interesting opportunity to study Stacey's brain," said Dr. Ashesh Mehta, the hospital's director of epilepsy surgery.

Luckily, after implanting a number of electrodes to determine the source of the seizure (not listed in the article) doctors were able to perform surgery to remove the offending brain cells and Stacey has not had a seizure since.

If you believe you or someone you know might be affected by photosensitive epilepsy here is a journal article you might be interested in.

EEG Diagnostic Procedures and Special Investigations in the Assessment of Photosensitivity

Photosensitivity can be assessed in laboratory conditions with different methods. The most common procedure is intermittent photic stimulation (IPS), whose effectiveness in detecting photosensitivity depends largely on methodologic aspects. Although IPS is a widespread and routinely used procedure in EEG laboratories, only recently has a standardization of the IPS method been proposed. Furthermore, other modalities of visual stimulation, including pattern stimulation and low-luminance visual stimulation (LLVS), have proven their usefulness in detecting photosensitivity. We provide an overview of the methodologic aspects and clinical implications of these procedures, resulting from recent consensus meetings, and the diagnostic usefulness of the LLVS technique in photosensitive individuals whose seizures are triggered particularly by television images. Finally, we briefly illustrate the potential of advanced neurophysiological (magnetoencephalography and high-density EEG) and functional imaging techniques in the investigation of the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying photosensitivity.


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Flickering lights may cause problems to people even when they don't have a history of epilepsy. In my kayaking club I know of two such people. The other was a woman of about 30, who had problems when paddling towards setting sun. The flicker from the waves made her feel ill. When a man of 70 heard about it, he told that he had almost fainted when reading a newspaper by swimming pool.

Maybe it is a form of synesthesia?

By Lassi Hippeläinen (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

Hey check out the fantastic and currently hottest reggae artist Ava Leigh whos worked with the famous sly n Robbie, Nick Manasseh and future cuts. There is free music available at www.avaleigh.co.uk.