Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Color Changes In TV Cartoons Cause Seizures

Date:
June 1, 1999
Source:
American Neurological Association
Summary:
A rash of epileptic seizures triggered by a television cartoon has pinpointed a new type of epilepsy, according to a report in this month's Annals of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society.

A rash of epileptic seizures triggered by a television cartoon has pinpointed a new type of epilepsy, according to a report in this month's Annals of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Neurological Association and the Child Neurology Society.

One evening in Japan in 1997, at precisely 6:50 in the evening, 685 people, most of them children, simultaneously suffered epileptic seizures. The culprit was not difficult to identify: all were watching the popular animated TV show, "Pocket Monsters."

Japanese researchers have now found evidence that the seizures were provoked by rapid changes of blue and red in the background of the cartoons.

Flickering lights such as strobe lights or even the images on a television or video screen are well known as triggers for epileptic seizures. Patients who experience such seizures are said to suffer from photosensitive epilepsy.

Rapid light/dark changes or alternating high-contrast patterns cause nerve cells in the brain to fire electrical impulses more rapidly than usual. In people with photosensitive epilepsy, the resulting "electrical storm" in the brain can lead to muscular convulsions or loss of consciousness.

Although photosensitive epilepsy is not a new phenomenon, the events in Japan appear to be unprecedented.

"This may be the world's largest simultaneous occurrence of photosensitive symptoms in children provoked by viewing a TV program. Therefore, the seizures were considered to be triggered by a single uniform visual stimulus," said Shozo Tobimatsu, M.D., a neurologist at Kyushu University in Japan and one of the authors of the article.

Tobimatsu and his colleagues studied 4 boys who had suffered seizures during the cartoon. Like many others, they were not known to suffer from epilepsy, although some had a family history of epilepsy.

The researchers measured brain wave responses as the boys watched the cartoon in color or in black and white. They found that only 2 of the boys were sensitive to light/dark changes, but that all 4 boys had abnormal, epilepsy-like brain changes when exposed to the color version of the cartoon.

Because the cartoon had a flickering blue and red background, the researchers also showed the boys rapidly alternating blue and red images.

"Rapid color changes between blue and red in the cartoon were clearly the most important factor compared with color changes of other kinds and flickering light," said Tobimatsu.

These results, combined with a report last year of color-induced seizures in Great Britain, led the Japanese team to propose a new subcategory of photosensitive epilepsy called chromatic sensitive epilepsy.

Other authors of the report were You Min Zhang, M.D., and Motohiro Kato, M.D., also of Kyushu University; and Yasuko Tomoda, M.D., and Akihisa Mitsudome, M.D., of Fukuoka University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Neurological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Neurological Association. "Color Changes In TV Cartoons Cause Seizures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990601080722.htm>.
American Neurological Association. (1999, June 1). Color Changes In TV Cartoons Cause Seizures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990601080722.htm
American Neurological Association. "Color Changes In TV Cartoons Cause Seizures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/06/990601080722.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins