Functional neurological disorder: new subtypes and shared mechanisms

Mark Hallett, Selma Aybek, Barbara A. Dworetzky, Laura McWhirter, Jeffrey P. Staab, Jon Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Functional neurological disorder is common in neurological practice. A new approach to the positive diagnosis of this disorder focuses on recognisable patterns of genuinely experienced symptoms and signs that show variability within the same task and between different tasks over time. Psychological stressors are common risk factors for functional neurological disorder, but are often absent. Four entities—functional seizures, functional movement disorders, persistent perceptual postural dizziness, and functional cognitive disorder—show similarities in aetiology and pathophysiology and are variants of a disorder at the interface between neurology and psychiatry. All four entities have distinctive features and can be diagnosed with the support of clinical neurophysiological studies and other biomarkers. The pathophysiology of functional neurological disorder includes overactivity of the limbic system, the development of an internal symptom model as part of a predictive coding framework, and dysfunction of brain networks that gives movement the sense of voluntariness. Evidence supports tailored multidisciplinary treatment that can involve physical and psychological therapy approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-550
Number of pages14
JournalThe Lancet Neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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