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A study on the role of emotions in functional neurological disorders

A study on the role of emotions in functional neurological disorders

Dr. Johannes Jungilligens publishes the results of the research in the scientific journal “Brain”


Knappschaftskrankenhaus Bochum GmbH
on 7/7/22

Dr. Johannes Jungilligens (Source: Romina Uhrlau, Department of Images, UK Knappschaftskrankenhaus Bochum)

Dizziness, shaking/tremors, seizures, loss of consciousness or even paralysis are symptoms of functional neurological disorders. They are very common but are often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to those of neurological diseases such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. In contrast, the etiology of functional neurological disorders is not structural brain or nerve damage, but rather neuropsychiatric processes that cannot be consciously controlled by those affected and are subject to the effects of attention, expectations, and emotions. To date, their origin is poorly understood.

Scientists from Bochum, in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, have now approached the possible development of functional neurological symptoms. Her work focuses on the role of emotions. Dr. Johannes Jungleggens, a neuropsychologist at the Department of Neurology at the University Hospital Bochum Knapschaftsklinikum, is the lead author of the study, which was recently published in the famous scientific journal Brain. He was a visiting scholar at Harvard Medical School in Boston for six months, where he collaborated with renowned sentiment researcher Professor D. Lisa Feldman Barrett came into being. In addition, neurologist Priv.-Doz. Dr. Stoyan Bobkirov, chief medical officer at the University Hospital Bochum Knapschwitz, took part in the project.

“Emotions have long been known to play an important role in many diseases such as depression or cancer. However, new scientific findings show that emotions are more than previously thought: they are not preprogrammed in our brains, but rather are individual psychological and physical experiences that are composed of individual Different for each of us based on our unique personal history, biology and environment.Emotions are also part of our sensory perception and even movement control.Our brain interprets signals from the environment and our body in order to better understand the world.When this emotional interpretation is disrupted, it can lead to situations such as Functional neurological disorders,” Jungilligens summarizes the study.

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This new perspective takes research into the basics of functional neurological disorders a major step forward and opens up new possibilities for patients and practitioners, for example in movement and behavior therapy with the option to work on the finer details of feelings and learn or relearn emotions.

Version details:
Jungilligens J, Paredes-Echeverri S, Popkirov S, Barrett LF, Perez DL. The new science of emotion: implications for functional neurodegenerative disorder. brain. June 2022. doi: 10.1093/brain/awak204.

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