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That's entertainment?

While critics blame television for a number of social ills, a new report adds a medical twist to the hazards associated with the tube. Neurologist Venkat Ramani of the Albany (N.Y.) Medical College has documented a case in which the voice of a popular television personality repeatedly triggered seizures in a 45-year-old woman.

A number of factors can precipitate epileptic seizures, including lack of sleep, emotional stress and blinking lights. Video games have been implicated in at least two cases, one of which involved a 13-year-old girl who had an epileptic attack while playing Nintendo.

In the July 11 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, Ramani describes a woman who suffered mild seizures -- involving confusion, nausea and a feeling of pressure in her head -- whenever she watched "Entertainment Tonight." Ramani videotaped that show, as well as several other programs with similar formats. When he replayed the shows in the laboratory, he discovered that the woman had seizures only while watching "Entertainment Tonight."

Systematic testing ruled out all but one of the cast members -- co-host Mary Hart, whose voice pattern consistently caused the seizures. Ramani prescribed anticonvulsant drugs and advised the patient not to watch the program. In the two years since, she has remained "relatively seizure-free," he reports.

"Reflex epilepsy" triggered by a specific voice or light pattern remains relatively rare, notes Edward J. Hart (no relation to Mary), who reported the Nintendo case last year. Most epileptics suffer seizures at random and thus cannot avoid their seizure "triggers," says Hart, a neurologist at Franciscan Children's Hospital in Boston.
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Title Annotation:a woman's seizures found to be caused by listening to the voice of Mary Hart of "Entertainment Tonight" television program
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 20, 1991
Words:259
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