Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
Thompson, S. M. 2010. Convulsants. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.
- Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Convulsants are substances that induce seizure-like paroxysmal behaviors by producing patterns of electrical activity in the brain that resemble those seen in human epilepsy. Epilepsy is characterized by recurring episodes in which the electrical activity of many thousands of neurons becomes abnormally elevated and pathologically synchronized. This discharge interrupts normal brain function and leads, in some forms of epilepsy, to alterations in behavior (seizures). Seizures come in many varieties, ranging from brief, barely detectable losses of consciousness in what are called absence or petit mal epilepsies, to uncontrollable tonic-clonic contractions of large muscle groups in the so-called grand mal epilepsies. The behavioral manifestations and severity of the seizure reflect primarily the size and localization of the abnormal electrical discharge.