Why Do People Have Seizures?

Contributor: Hannah Brooks. Lesson ID: 12609

The brain is an amazing and intricate organ, but just like your computer, it can crash. When that happens, a scary event called a "seizure" can happen. Learn the signs and the ways to help a victim!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Have you ever miscommunicated with a friend or family member? What happened because of the mixed-up message?

When communication pathways are blocked or not functioning, it can cause confusion!

Did you know that cells in your brain can miscommunicate and cause neurological events like seizures? Seizures occur when neuron, or brain cell, function is disrupted. This can occur because a cell is damaged or the electrical impulse is not transmitted across the space between brain cells.

Brain cells, or neurons, have a branch shape that allows for quick communication. Check out the Elephango lesson found under Additional Resources (right-hand sideabr) to learn more about these cool cells!

Also, if you missed or would like to review the previous Related Lessons in our Nervous System series, find them in the right-hand sidebar as well.

These branching arms are responsible for moving signals through the brain and into the body. When the messages are damaged or interrupted, an individual can experience a seizure.

Seizures impact the central nervous system because they originate in the brain. They can occur in many parts of the brain and have various symptoms. The severity of the seizure depends on how much of, and which areas of, the brain are impacted.

Partial seizures appear as though the person is staring into space unaware of the surroundings. These usually pass after a few minutes and impact small areas of the brain responsible for specific functions, like speech.

Other seizures, like petite mal and grand mal, have external symptoms that can indicate that a person is seizing. During a petite mal seizure, the individual may lose muscle control and start blinking or breathing quickly for a few seconds.

Grand mal seizures are more intense, with some lasting up to five minutes. During these brain events, the individual loses muscle control and begins convulsing. Muscles contract, causing the jaw to shut, and changing the breathing rate. These seizures impact the entire brain, leading to the whole body response.

"Epilepsy" is the name for the neurological disorder that causes repeated seizure activity. There are treatments available for individuals with epilepsy, and many people can live long, healthy lives with continued medication.

  • Did you know that one in 26 people will experience seizure activity during their lifetime?

Children experience seizures more often, but many grow out of the condition by the time they reach adulthood.

While seizures are scary — especially because we can't really see what is causing them — there are many treatments available to help individuals who suffer from these events. The brain is a fascinating organ and responsible for hundreds of daily bodily functions. When messages or signals are mixed, it can cause great chaos within the body.

  • Respond to this question by reflecting in your notebook (in one or two paragraphs), "How does the brain influence seizure activity?"

In the Got It? section, you will learn more about how to respond if someone is seizing.

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