A study of 4 boys with cartoon-evoked epileptic seizures, conducted at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan, was prompted by a report of 685 Japanese children and some adults who suffered generalized convulsions while watching an animated TV program called “Pocket Monsters.” One of the 4 affected boys had previous febrile convulsions, none had afebrile seizures, and 2 had a family history of epilepsy. Brain imaging studies were normal. Two showed paroxysmal EEG abnormalities with intermittent photic stimulation. All 4 with cartoon-evoked seizures had a 3-Hz spike-and-wave photoparoxysmal response (PPR) when exposed to the blue/red colored cartoon frames at 6 and 12 Hz flicker rates, and less frequently, only at 12 Hz flicker, with a monochromatic gray/black version of the cartoon. In contrast, 2 boys with TV game epilepsy were unaffected by the cartoon. [1]

COMMENT. TV producers of children’s programs need to be alerted not only to the adverse effects of violence but also to the color content of their cartoons. Factors responsible for precipitating photosensitive epileptic seizures include light, pattern, stimulus frequency, and, in addition, the blue/red colors. Testing for chromatic sensitivity should be added to the list of activating procedures during EEG recordings in children with suspected photosensitive epilepsy.