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Automatism

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Updated June 05, 2008

Definition: Unusual, complicated, purposeless movements involving one or more muscle groups that usually occur during some types of neurological or psychiatric disorders.

In epilepsy, automatisms may be noted in complex partial seizures and some absence seizures.

They may include:

  • Repetitive tapping
  • Movements of the mouth, such as lip smacking, chewing, or mumbling
  • Repetitive hand movements
  • Picking at clothes or objects
  • Rapid blinking
Automatisms may last for a minute or more, and individuals are usually not aware of their surroundings during this time.

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