W Curt LaFrance Jr

W Curt LaFrance Jr
Alpert Medical School - Brown University · Department of Neurology

MD, MPH

About

212
Publications
55,425
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Introduction
W Curt LaFrance Jr MD, MPH, is Director of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurology at Rhode Island Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Alpert Medical School - Brown University. His clinic, teaching and research examines diagnosis and treatment of patients with brain-mind disorders, including seizures, movement disorders, traumatic brain injury, and somatic symptom disorders / conversion (functional) disorders.
Additional affiliations
July 2018 - present
Alpert Medical School - Brown University
Position
  • Professor
June 2003 - June 2018
Alpert Medical School - Brown University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
June 2003 - present
Rhode Island Hospital
Position
  • Director, Neuropsychiatry & Behavioral Neurology

Publications

Publications (212)
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of Review Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are the most common Functional Neurological Disorder/Conversion Disorder subtype. Significant advances have been made related to diagnosis, neurobiology, and treatment. In this review, we summarize updates in diagnosis and management over the past 3 years. Recent Findings Although evidence...
Article
Purpose In patients with functional seizures (FS), delay in diagnosis (DD) may negatively affect outcomes. Altered brain responses to emotional stimuli have been shown in adults with FS. We hypothesized that DD would be associated with differential fMRI activation in emotion processing circuits. Methods Fifty-two adults (38 females) with video-EEG...
Article
Managing one’s own symptoms, medications, treatments, lifestyle, and psychological and social aspects of chronic disease is known as self-management. The Institute of Medicine has identified three categories of epilepsy self-management, including medication management, behavior management, and emotional support. Overall, there has been limited rese...
Article
Despite providing care for patients with "disturbances of the same organ," the brain, the therapeutic approaches used by neurologists and psychiatrists are, to some extent, distinct. With recognition of the closely coupled relationship between physical health and mental health, there is increased awareness of the need to provide an integrated, neur...
Article
Objective: This study was undertaken to determine whether undiagnosed illness duration (time between functional seizures [FS] onset and diagnosis) is linked to differences in neural response and functional connectivity during processing of stressful experiences. Methods: Forty-nine participants with traumatic brain injury preceding the onset of...
Article
Functional seizures (FS) known also as psychogenic non-epileptic seizures or dissociative seizures, present with ictal semiological manifestations, along with various comorbid neurological and psychological disorders. Terminology inconsistencies and discrepancies in nomenclatures of FS may reflect limitations in understanding the neuropsychiatric i...
Article
Objective: Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are characterized by multifocal and global abnormalities in brain function and connectivity. Only a few studies have examined neuroanatomic correlates of PNES. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is reported in 83% of patients with PNES and may be a key component of PNES pathophysiology. In this study, w...
Article
Clinical interest in using psychological interventions for people with epilepsy (PWE) aiming at decreasing mental health difficulties, improving health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and seizure-related outcomes, continues to grow. This article summarizes the 2020 update of the 2017 Cochrane Review and meta-analysis of psychological interventions...
Article
Full-text available
Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, based on systematic reviews of existing evidence, play an important role in improving and standardizing the quality of patient care in many medical and psychiatric disorders, and could play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of functional seizures and other functional neurological disorder...
Article
Full-text available
Amongst the most important conditions in the differential diagnosis of epilepsy is the one that manifests as paroxysmal of altered behaviour, awareness, sensation or sense of bodily control in ways that often resemble epileptic seizures, but without the abnormal excessive or synchronous electrical activity in the brain that defines these. Despite t...
Chapter
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions, affecting up to seventy million people worldwide, with post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) accounting for up to 20% of symptomatic cases. Despite this, there is a dearth of information about PTE available for clinicians. This book will guide readers through the neurobiology of PTE and the long-t...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Using machine learning to combine wrist accelerometer (ACM) and electrodermal activity (EDA) has been shown effective to detect primarily and secondarily generalized tonic-clonic seizures, here termed as convulsive seizures (CS). A prospective study was conducted for the FDA clearance of an ACM and EDA-based CS-detection device based on...
Article
Full-text available
Video-encephalographic (vEEG) seizure recordings make essential contributions to the differentiation of epilepsy and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). The yield of vEEG examinations can be increased through suggestive seizure manipulation (SSM) (i.e., activation/provocation/cessation procedures), but its use has raised ethical concerns. In...
Article
Functional neurological disorder (FND) is a prevalent, disabling and costly condition at the neurology–psychiatry intersection. After being marginalised in the late 20th century, there has been renewed interest in this field. In this article, we review advances that have occurred over the past decade (2011–2020) across diagnosis, mechanisms, aetiol...
Article
Full-text available
Functional neurological (conversion) disorder (FND) was of great interest to early clinical neuroscience leaders. During the 20th century, neurology and psychiatry grew apart - leaving FND a borderland condition. Fortunately, a renaissance has occurred in the last two decades, fostered by increased recognition that FND is prevalent and diagnosed us...
Article
Background To evaluate the quality of smartphone videos (SVs) in adult epilepsy outpatients. Methods A prospective, multicenter cohort study evaluated SV quality in patients with paroxysmal neurologic events from 8/15/2015 through 8/31/2018. Epileptic seizures (ES), psychogenic nonepileptic attacks (PNEA), and physiologic nonepileptic events were...
Article
Objective: To utilize traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a model for investigating functioning during acute stress experiences in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) and to identify neural mechanisms underlying the link between changes in processing of stressful experiences and mental health symptoms in PNES. Methods: We recruited 94 participant...
Article
Full-text available
Functional neurological disorder (FND) encompasses a complex and heterogeneous group of neuropsychiatric syndromes commonly encountered in clinical practice. Patients with FND may present with a myriad of neurological symptoms and frequently have comorbid medical, neurological, and psychiatric disorders. Over the past decade, important advances hav...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives The Psychology Task Force of the Medical Therapies Commission of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) has been charged with taking steps to improve global mental health care for people with epilepsy. This study aimed to inform the direction and priorities of the Task Force by examining epilepsy health care providers’ current...
Article
The first and most important step in establishing diagnosis of epilepsy consists of careful history taking from patients and witnesses. The clinical evaluation of the event will lead the indication for further diagnostic tests including e.g. EEG and MRI. Hence, identifying the paroxysmal event as epileptic or non-epileptic is the very first step in...
Article
Objective: Previous studies have shown the effectiveness of manual-based treatment for psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), but access to mental health care still remains a problem, especially for patients living in areas without medical professionals who treat conversion disorder. Thus, we evaluated patients treated with cognitive behavioral...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To further evaluate the relationship between the clinical profiles and limbic and motor brain regions and their connecting pathways in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Indices (NODDI) multicompartment modeling was used to test the relationships between tissue alterations in patients wi...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Given the significant impact epilepsy may have on the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of individuals with epilepsy and their families, there is increasing clinical interest in evidence-based psychological treatments, aimed at enhancing psychological and seizure-related outcomes for this group. This is an updated version of the o...
Article
The American Neuropsychiatric Association's Committee on Research assigned the task of defining the most helpful clinical factors and tests in establishing the diagnosis of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) during a neuropsychiatric assessment. A systematic review of the literature was conducted using three search engines and specified searc...
Article
Functional neurological (conversion) disorder (FND) is a prevalent and disabling condition at the intersection of neurology and psychiatry. Advances have been made in elucidating an emerging pathophysiology for motor FND, as well as in identifying evidenced-based physiotherapy and psychotherapy treatments. Despite these gains, important elements of...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives This International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Report: 1) summarizes the literature about “driving and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)”; 2) presents the views of international experts; and, 3) proposes an approach to assessing the ability of persons with PNES (PwPNES) to drive. Methods Phase 1: Systematic literature review....
Article
At present, there is no reliable biomarker for the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Studies have shown that extracellular vesicles released by damaged cells into biological fluids can be used as potential biomarkers for diagnosis of TBI and evaluation of TBI severity. We hypothesize that the genetic profile of salivary extracellular vesic...
Article
This article reviews common and clinically important neuropsychiatric aspects of epilepsy. Comorbidities are common, underdiagnosed, and powerfully impact clinical outcomes. Biological, psychological, and social factors contribute to the associations between epilepsy and neuropsychiatric disorders. Epidemiologic studies point to a bidirectional rel...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives We aimed to identify existing outcome measures for functional neurological disorder (FND), to inform the development of recommendations and to guide future research on FND outcomes. Methods A systematic review was conducted to identify existing FND-specific outcome measures and the most common measurement domains and measures in previou...
Article
Objective: The authors compared baseline characteristics and reporting of psychosocial measures among veterans with seizures who were evaluated in-clinic or remotely via computer video telehealth (CVT). It was hypothesized that the CVT group would report less trauma history, drug use, and comorbid symptoms compared with veterans seen in-clinic. M...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Functional neurological disorder (FND) is a prevalent neuropsychiatric condition characterized by sensorimotor difficulties. Patients with FND at times report that sensory experiences trigger and/or exacerbate their symptoms. Sensory processing difficulties are also commonly reported in other psychiatric disorders frequently comorbid i...
Article
Importance Misdiagnosis of epilepsy is common. Video electroencephalogram provides a definitive diagnosis but is impractical for many patients referred for evaluation of epilepsy. Objective To evaluate the accuracy of outpatient smartphone videos in epilepsy. Design, Setting, and Participants This prospective, masked, diagnostic accuracy study (t...
Article
The development and selection of optimal outcome measures is increasingly recognized as a key component of evidence-based medicine, particularly the need for the development of a standardized set of measures for use in clinical trials. This process is particularly complex for functional neurological disorder (FND) for several reasons. FND can prese...
Article
Full-text available
Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), also known as dissociative seizures, are paroxysms of altered subjective experience, involuntary movements and reduced self-control that can resemble epileptic seizures, but have distinct clinical characteristics and a complex neuropsychiatric aetiology. They are common, accounting for over 10% of seizure...
Poster
Full-text available
The "fixed and frozen" AI-based GTCS detection algorithm complies with FDA requirements (lower bound of CI for PPA>70% and FAR<2) for both pediatric and adult populations. • The FAR for pediatric is significantly (p-value<0.01) higher FAR, most likely because children were more active in the EMU. • During rest, the overall FAR drops dramatically to...
Article
Objective: Over 40% of combat Veterans report exposure to at least one type of morally injurious experience (MIE). While moral injury (MI) is described among Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), MI has not been studied in Veterans with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). We sought to identify MI in a clinical sample of Veteran...
Article
Since its establishment in 2000, Epilepsy & Behavior has published more than 1000 papers on mental health issues among people with epilepsy, including about 200 reviews. These studies on prevalence, treatment, and guidance for future research are important contributions to the field, and they offer great promise. Yet these papers and the multitude...
Article
A dualistic mind-body understanding of functional neurological disorders (FNDs), also known as conversion disorders, has led to the view that the cause of the symptom should be either psychological (psychogenic) or physical (neurogenic-“organic”). One of the most influential psychological approaches is the Freudian model of conversion, which sugges...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: To evaluate changes in tremor severity and motor/emotion-processing circuits in response to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered as treatment for functional tremor (FT), the most common functional movement disorder in adults. Methods: Fifteen patients with FT underwent fMRI with motor, basic-emotion, and intense-emotion tasks...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Differentiating epileptic seizures (ES) and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) is commonly based on electroencephalogram and concurrent video recordings (vEEG). Here, we demonstrate that these two types of seizures can be discriminated based on signals related to autonomic nervous system activity recorded via wearable sensors. We used Empatic...
Article
Objective Some individuals with functional neurological disorder (FND) exhibit motor and affective disturbances, along with limbic hyper-reactivity and enhanced motor-limbic connectivity. Given that the multimodal integration network (insula, dorsal cingulate, temporoparietal junction (TPJ)) is implicated in convergent sensorimotor, affective and i...
Article
Purpose We evaluate outcome of in-home diagnostic ambulatory video-EEG monitoring (AVEM) performed on a nationwide cohort of patients over one calendar year, and we compare our findings with outcomes of inpatient adult and pediatric VEM performed during the same year at two academic epilepsy centers. Methods This is a retrospective cohort study. W...
Article
Full-text available
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common cause of death and acquired disability in adults and children. Identifying biomarkers for mild TBI (mTBI) that can predict functional impairments on neuropsychiatric and neurocognitive testing after head trauma is yet to be firmly established. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are known to traffic from the brain...
Article
Background: The relationships between baseline neuropsychiatric factors and clinical outcome in patients with functional neurological disorder (FND)/conversion disorder remain poorly understood. Objective: This prospective, naturalistic pilot study investigated links between predisposing vulnerabilities (risk factors) and clinical outcome in pat...
Article
Objectives: Pediatric psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) is a functional somatic symptom condition with significant health-care service burden. While both family and individual factors play an important role in the development and maintenance of PNES, little is known about what predicts urgent health-care use in families with children who ha...
Article
In the past decade, there has been a significant growth in the literature with a focus on neuroimaging of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). The expectation of this work is the identification of biomarkers for diagnosis, treatment response, and prognosis of PNES. With different studies identifying different potential regions of interest, one...
Article
Full-text available
Importance Functional neurological disorders (FND) are common sources of disability in medicine. Patients have often been misdiagnosed, correctly diagnosed after lengthy delays, and/or subjected to poorly delivered diagnoses that prevent diagnostic understanding and lead to inappropriate treatments, iatrogenic harm, unnecessary and costly evaluatio...
Article
Full-text available
Given the significant impact that psychosocial factors and epilepsy treatments can have on the health‐related quality of life (HRQOL) of individuals with epilepsy and their families, there is great clinical interest in the role of psychological evaluation and treatments to improve HRQOL and comorbidities. Therefore, the International League Against...
Book
Patients with nonepileptic seizures (NES) frequently present in neurology, psychiatry, psychology, and emergency departments. The disorder has been well-documented in the medical literature, and much is known about the phenomenology, ictal semiology, neurologic signs, psychiatric comorbidities, neuropsychological testing, and psychosocial aspects....
Article
Patients with functional neurological disorders (FND)/conversion disorder commonly present to outpatient clinics. FND is now a ‘rule in’ diagnosis based on neurological examination findings and semiological features. While neurologists may be more comfortable diagnosing patients with FND, there is only limited guidance as to how to conduct follow-u...
Article
OBJECTIVE Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in athletes, including concussion, is increasingly being found to have long-term sequelae. Current imaging techniques have not been able to identify early damage caused by mTBI that is predictive of long-term symptoms or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In this preliminary feasibility study, the authors...
Article
Background Insecure attachment and maladaptive coping are important predisposing vulnerabilities for Functional Neurological Disorders (FND)/Conversion Disorder, yet no prior structural neuroimaging studies have investigated biomarkers associated with these risk factors in FND populations. This magnetic resonance imaging study examined cortical thi...
Article
Objective: Reduced resilience, a construct associated with maladaptive stress coping and a predisposing vulnerability for Functional Neurological Disorders (FND), has been under-studied compared to other neuropsychiatric factors in FND. This prospective case-control study investigated self-reported resilience in patients with FND compared to contr...
Article
Studies of emotion processing are needed to better understand the pathophysiology of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). We examined the differences in facial emotion processing between 12 patients with PNES, 12 patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), and 24 matched healthy controls (HCs) using fMRI with emotional faces task (EFT) (happy/...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Given the significant impact epilepsy can have on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of individuals with this condition and their families, there is great clinical interest in evidence-based psychological treatments aimed at enhancing well-being in people with epilepsy (PWE). An evaluation of the current evidence is needed to assess...
Article
Despite advancements in the assessment and management of functional neurological disorder (FND), the feasibility of implementing a new standard of care remains unclear. Chart reviews were performed for 100 patients with motor FND to investigate factors related to treatment adherence and clinical improvement over an average follow-up of 7 months. Of...
Article
Objective: Studies from a small number of countries suggest that patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) have limited access to diagnostic and treatment services. The PNES Task Force of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) carried out 2 surveys to explore the diagnosis and treatment of PNES around the world. Methods: A...
Article
Background: Links between dissociation and functional neurological disorder (FND)/conversion disorder are well-established, yet the pathophysiology of dissociation remains poorly understood. This MRI study investigated structural alterations associated with somatoform and psychological dissociation in FND. We hypothesized that multimodal, paralimb...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Given the significant impact epilepsy can have on the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of individuals with epilepsy and their families, there is great clinical interest in evidence-based psychological treatments, aimed at enhancing psychological well-being in people with epilepsy. A review of the current evidence was needed to as...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: New devices are needed for monitoring seizures, especially those associated with sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). They must be unobtrusive and automated, and provide false alarm rates (FARs) bearable in everyday life. This study quantifies the performance of new multimodal wrist-worn convulsive seizure detectors. Methods:...
Article
Rationale: White matter abnormalities occur in both temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and depression, but there is limited research examining the depression-white matter association in depressed individuals with TLE. This study examined the relationship between white matter integrity (WMI) and depression including the influence of age at seizure onset,...
Article
Objective Affective symptoms influence health status (health-related quality of life) in functional neurological disorder (FND), and the salience network is implicated in the pathophysiology of FND and mood/anxiety disorders. We hypothesised that self-reported health status and affective symptoms would map onto salience network regions and that pat...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of review: In this review, we elucidate the evaluation process involved in the diagnosis of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES). Minimum clinical criteria required to attain this diagnosis via a staged approach are delineated. The psychological underpinnings and management of PNES from the neurologists' perspective are also explored....