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Purpose of review: This paper reviews data from functional neuroimaging studies that have sought to determine the pathophysiology of motor conversion and sets it into a more conceptual framework of discussing the possibility of a scientific psychopathology. Recent findings: Medically unexplained symptoms are real and not missed neurological morbidity; further, they are chronic and disabling. Imaging findings have suggested volition may or may not be impaired in motor conversion, and areas such as the anterior cingulate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex have been implicated. Summary: Hysteria is conceptually a difficult area to study scientifically, given the diagnosis being contingent upon unconscious mechanisms being posited. Given this difficulty, there have been some meaningful and elegant findings generated through the use of cognitive neuroscience.

Original publication




Journal article


Current Opinion in Psychiatry

Publication Date





465 - 469