Today in weird patientthe case of a young man who loses control of his arm while playing sudoku.
Doctors at Munich University Hospital have taken in a 25-year-old young man with more than surprising symptoms. When he plays sudoku, a popular mental puzzle, his left arm twitches uncontrollably. These jerky movements, which doctors call “clonic convulsions”, also appear when the young man is doing other visuospatial tasks, such as sorting numbers in ascending order, but nothing when he is reading a book, writing or solving a task. mathematical. Also, as soon as he stops his sudoku, his arm stops moving. What’s going on in his brain?
Playing sudoku, a factor triggering epileptic seizures
To understand this enigmatic case, we must retrace the history of this patient, a sports student. A ski enthusiast, he was caught in an avalanche a few months before going to hospital in Munich. He had been stuck in the snow for about 15 minutes and as a result his brain was deprived of a sufficient supply of oxygen. Following this accident, he developed myoclonic convulsions of the mouth when he speaks and of the legs when he walks. But at this point, the arms were unaffected.
The patient therefore already suffers from neurological sequelae but how to explain that sudoku triggers such symptoms? To find out, the doctors gave him a functional MRI while he solved a puzzle. The images show a runaway in the central part of the right parietal lobe, an area of the brain precisely involved in visuo-spatial tasks. This overactivation of the brain is responsible for the uncontrolled movements of the patient’s arm.
This form of epilepsy is called reflex epilepsy which is characterized by the triggering of seizures following exposure to an external stimulus. The most common is photosensitive epilepsy, triggered by flashes of light, but other triggers exist such as noise, or certain emotions.
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