A behavior analysis approach to high-rate myoclonic seizures

Michael F. Cataldo, Dennis C. Russo, John M. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epilepsy represents a serious medical and social problem. In the majority of cases, seizures are successfully managed by a variety of anticonvulsant medications, even though these drugs may potentiate significant physical and developmental side effects. A small group of studies to date have offered evidence that behavioral procedures can successfully manage some seizure disorders and are particularly desirable treatment choices when seizure disorders are intractable to drug management or when drug side effects are to be avoided. The present case adds to this small but growing group of studies in that it demonstrates the use of behavioral procedures in the analysis and treatment of high-rate myoclonic seizures. Seizures were evaluated on a hospital ward and in a controlled experimental setting. The data indicated a variable rate of seizures across days and activities and a reduction of seizure frequency in the controlled setting when time-out was made contingent on seizures. A program of "contingent rest" was then applied on the hospital ward that demonstrated a reduction in myoclonic seizure frequency and the apparent prevention of several grand mal episodes. An observer calibration procedure showed high correspondence between behaviorally and physiologically recorded seizures. A discussion of issues in behavioral medicine research follows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-427
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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