Doctors at Dalhousie University in Canada were conducting a routine assessment of epilepsy in young people when they discovered two sudden bursts of brain activity in one teenage girl.
The activity happened at the exact moments the teenager took selfies on her smartphone, and were the type of brain responses doctors would expect to see during epileptic seizures.
The doctors believe the teenager’s seizures could have been caused by her phone’s flash or, more likely, the flashing red light designed to reduce red eyes in the pictures.
According to the NHS, flashing lights are an uncommon seizure trigger and affect only 5% of patients with epilepsy.
People with this condition, known as photosensitive epilepsy, are at risk of having a seizure when exposed to shimmering day light, strobe lights, and flickering lights at certain frequencies on television or computer screens.
More studies will be needed to confirm whether “selfie epilepsy” is a proven phenomenon, but the doctors say that their findings are an important reminder of why taking selfies in potentially dangerous circumstances, such as while driving, should be avoided by everyone.
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