Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

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 (which is 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.