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Incredibles 2 Seizure Warning: Which Movies Can Induce Seizures?

Disney/Pixar may now include a warning for viewers that some scenes in their latest hit, Incredibles 2, may induce seizures at the request of the National Epilepsy Foundation.  Some viewers found the strobe and flashing light scenes to be potential seizure triggers.

What is a seizure?

A seizure occurs when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain.  If the electricity doesn’t conduct properly, brain function gets disrupted. This could lead to convulsions  (involuntary jerking movements), loss of muscle tone, changes in senses such as vision, hearing and smell, loss of bladder control, loss of consciousness and sometimes stroke, brain damage and death.

HGT0066_neurons-seizure-brain_FS.jpg

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which a person has recurrent, unprovoked seizures.

Photosensitive epilepsy, in which visual triggers can induce a seizure, occurs in 1 in 4000 of the population.

Can Movies Cause Seizures?

In December of 1997, a Pokemon cartoon aired in Japan resulting in over 700 children to the hospital with ailments ranging from dizziness to epilepsy.  It was determined that the rapidly strobing flashes of red and blue lights induced this “Pokemon Shock”.

pokemon1

A study from Prasad et al in 2012 found no increase risk of seizures with 3D movies than conventional television. They explain why seizures are induced here:

The mechanism in which TV and cinema movies trigger seizures in patients with photosensitive epilepsy is related to several factors including the light intensity, the environment and the frequency of picture frames per second. Normal 2D movies have a frame rate of 24 per second, which may pose a risk for patients with photosensitive epilepsy, but the light intensity in the cinema is very low and there are relatively a few reports of seizures precipitated in cinemas. In contrast, 3D movies project images at 48 frames per second aimed, by the use of coloured or polarising filters, at different eyes and resulting in 24 frames per second per eye. The polarising effect of 3D films may reduce the light output by around fifty percent leading to a reduced risk to trigger a seizure to people with photosensitive epilepsy. Therefore, the risk of 3D movies to trigger a seizure is around fifty percent less than with conventional 2D movies. However if provocative material such as flashing light is presented the risk can be as high as that for normal 2D movies.

 

Although there is “insufficient evidence” to connect 3D movies to epilepsy, researchers agree with the need for more study.

Which makes us rely on anecdotal, or testimonial evidence such as the tweet from Veronica Lewis.

“Risky Movies”

The following have been suggested on moviehealthcommunity.tumblr.com to have strobe effects or flashing lights that may affect one’s photosensitivity risk of inducing a seizure:

  • Incredibles 2 villan weapon
  • Ocean’s 8 – fast-moving trains
  • Solo, A Star Wars Story – laser fire and sparking electrical equipment
  • Speed Racer – bright headlines, racing cars
  • Deadpool 2 – gunfire, high-speed chase scenes
  • Hostiles -flashes from the gunfire
  • 300 – lightning scenes
  • Avengers, Infinity War – fight scenes, shaking cameras, laser based weapons
  • IronMan series – strobe and flashing lights
  • Incredible Hulk, 2008 – strobe lights
  • Ready Player One – high-speed chase, shaky camera, flashing lights
  • Tomb Raider, 2018 – strobe lights, shaky cameras
  • A Wrinkle in Time – lightening storm
  • I, Tonya – fast speeds, quick camera shots
  • The Cloverfield Paradox – strobe lights

Although one of my favorite franchises, some of my listeners found the Transformer movies to have similar issues with high speed movemements and strobe lights.

Many more movies are listed but the common thread are those with high action, high-speed, strobe lighting, storms, horror, and fast-moving race or fall scenes.

More can be found at moviehealthcommunity.tumblr.com.

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Author:

Nationally Syndicated Radio Host, Board Certified Family Medicine Physician, Author

One thought on “Incredibles 2 Seizure Warning: Which Movies Can Induce Seizures?

  1. Curious why Incredibles 2 got so much attention for this? Don’t most all modern movies, cartoons, etc. have at least some of these effects? Is it specifically the longer the frequent “duration” of these intense effects what cause the problem? Even people without photosensitive epilepsy got sore eyes, or lightheaded, with that movie.

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