Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
Edinburgh Neuroscience and CCBS logos

Functional disorders

Clinical study of disorders of nervous system function that are not caused by brain disease.

Symptoms of functional disorders
Functional dystonia (left) and functional leg weakness (right)

What are functional disorders?

Functional disorders are one of the commonest reason for patients to see a neurologist. They include problems such as dissociative (non-epileptic) seizures, functional movement disorders (such as tremors, spasms or jerks) and functional limb weakness.

Functional Neurological Disorders (sometimes abbreviated to FND) are genuine and often disabling. They relate to a disorder of nervous system functioning but not brain disease. Other terms used to describe these hidden and stigmatised disorders include conversion disorder and psychogenic disorders.

The Edinburgh team carries out clinical research on a wide range of functional disorders, looking at how common they are, why and how they happen and trialling physical and psychological treatments.

Research group co-leader: Prof Jon Stone

Research group co-leader: Prof Alan Carson


Introductory video

An introductory film about the diagnosis and treatment of FND completed in December 2018 by the Dutch film company iTZiT productions, with grateful thanks for funding by Spohr Innovations.

The film has been designed to describe what FND is (particularly functional motor symptoms like paralysis and movement disorders), how its diagnosed and how treatment can help. Features: Marieke, Rachel, Simon, and Rien Vermeulen (Neurology, Amsterdam), Jon Stone (Neurology, Edinburgh), Alan Carson (Neuropsychiatry), Bart van Buchem (Physiotherapist, Amsterdam). With thanks as well to Stichting FNS, FNDHope, NHS Lothian, University of Edinburgh and Fysiotherapie Haarlem - Praktijk Noorder Spaarne.

Donate to functional disorders research

Make a regular gift or one off donation: https://donate.ed.ac.uk/support/functionldisordrres