What happens during a focal seizure varies as there are a wide range of symptoms.

    You might hear people calling focal seizures by their old name: partial seizures.

    Fast facts

    1. 1
      There are 2 main types of focal seizure: focal aware and focal impaired awareness
    2. 2
      A wide range of symptoms can happen during a focal seizure. Some people have only one symptom while others experience several
    3. 3
      The part of brain the seizure affects has an impact on what happens during a focal seizure
    4. 4
      During a focal aware seizure, the person remains aware of what’s happening around them
    5. 5
      If the person is not aware of what’s happening at any time during the seizure, it’s a focal impaired awareness seizure
    6. 6
      Focal aware seizures used to be called simple partial seizures
    7. 7
      Focal impaired awareness seizures used to be called complex partial seizures

    What happens

    What you experience, and what people will see, during a focal seizure depends on which part of the brain is affected. This is because different parts of the brain control our movements, body functions, feelings and reactions.

    The lobes in your brain

    Focal seizures can start in different parts of the brain, and create a range of symptoms. Click or tap the markers to find out more.

    The lobes of the brain labelled

    Frontal lobes

    Focal seizures starting in the frontal lobes are common. The frontal lobes are responsible for many functions such as: personality, behaviour, movement, concentration and problem solving.

    Parietal lobes

    Seizures starting in the parietal lobe often spread to involve other lobes. The parietal lobes are responsible for: processing language, signals from our senses and spatial awareness.

    Temporal lobes

    Focal seizures starting in the temporal lobes are common. The temporal lobes are responsible for many functions, such as hearing, speech, memory, and emotions.

    Occipital lobes

    Seizures starting in the occipital lobes often spread to involve other lobes. The occipital lobes are responsible for vision.

    Tap or click the markers

    How people can help

    If you have focal seizures

    It’s helpful for others to:

    It’s not helpful to:

    After the seizure

    How people feel after a focal seizure varies.

    You might feel fine and be able to get back to what you were doing straight away. Or you could feel confused or tired for some time afterwards. You may want to sleep afterwards to help you recover.

    Sometimes people experience a temporary weakness or can’t move part of their body after a seizure. This is called Todd’s paresis or Todd’s paralysis. It can last from a few minutes to a few days before going away.


    Different experiences of focal seizures

    • What a focal seizure can look like

    • When the World Falls Away

      Musician Alex Parish talks about his focal seizures

    • Living with Epilepsy | Annie Bean

      Blogger Annie Bean talks about her seizures

    Do something

    Keeping a seizure diary really helps people to understand their seizures better.

    What percentage of your seizures are you recording in a seizure diary?


    Go to the Seizures menu

    Updated 12 May 2020
    Review 12 May 2023
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