Case study of invalid to valid shift in cognitive performance following successful treatment of psychogenic nonepileptic seizure events

Daniel L. Drane, Kelsey C. Hewitt, Michele E. Price, Beth K. Rush, Karen Blackmon, Noah Okada, Taylor Shade, Edward Valentin, Joseph Vinson, Phyllis Rosen, David W. Loring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizure (PNES) who fail performance validity testing (PVT) may appear to produce non-valid cognitive profiles. Consequently, they may not get referred to treatment and events persist, with worsening disability and high resource utilization. As a result, we report pre- and post-treatment neuropsychological evaluation findings in a 59-year-old woman with a confirmed diagnosis of PNES established using video-EEG monitoring. At pre-treatment baseline neuropsychological evaluation, PNES events occurred weekly to daily. Performance was impaired across PVTs and across multiple cognitive domains. After behavioral intervention specific to PNES, these events substantially reduced in frequency to rare stress-induced flares. Post-treatment neuropsychological evaluation revealed marked improvement of most cognitive and behavioral scores from baseline, and valid PVT scores. We review predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors for PNES and cognitive impairment in this case and discuss the patient’s outcome from treatment. Effectively managing PNES events and dissociative tendencies while reducing unnecessary pharmacological interventions appears to have allowed this patient to function closer to her optimal state. This case illustrates the complexity of Functional Neurologic Disorder (FND) clinical presentation and challenges the assumption that suboptimal neuropsychological performance predicts poor treatment engagement and outcome. We showcase the reversibility of PNES and cognitive manifestations of FND using targeted psychotherapeutic interventions, which resulted in reduced disability and associated healthcare costs, as well as re-engagement in life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • cognitive outcome
  • Functional neurological disorder
  • mental health
  • performance validity testing
  • psychogenic nonepileptic seizures


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